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Arkansas to separate Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee holidays

The state of Arkansas is about to split the holidays commemorating civil rights icon Martin Luther...

‘Misremembering King Rewrites the Press’s Own Role in History’ – Transcript of CounterSpin's special...

The January 20, 2017, episode of CounterSpin was a special featuring archived interviews about corporate media and Martin Luther King. This is a lightly...

Another Birthday for Dr. Martin Luther King

by Donal Mahoney / January 22nd, 2017 The longer I live the greater Martin Luther King lookscompared with those who have tried to carry on...

Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?

8 shot at MLK Jr. parade in Miami's Martin Luther King Jr. Park

Eight people have been shot at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march attended by thousands...

Antiwar And Anti-Violence: The Revolutionary Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King’s 1967 sermons and speeches against the Vietnam war may not be as well-remembered as his famous “I...

Let’s Not Forget—Martin Luther King Jr. Was Preaching Economic Justice, Too

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service,” wrote King’s...

The Plot To Kill Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Phillip F. Nelson January 14, 2017 The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. This is an OUTSTANDING...
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Video: Actor & Activist Danny Glover: We Must Organize in the Spirit of Martin...

http://democracynow.org - On Monday night, actor and activist Danny Glover spoke at Democracy Now!'s 20th anniversary at Riverside Church—the very same ... Via Youtube

Muhammad Ali Belongs Right Up There with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Howard...

(Photo: Youtube) With all the discussion and debate these days about intersectionality and the need for progressives to link our movements against racism and against...

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover’s “Suicide Letter” to Civil...

It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the "most...

How the FBI Tried to Block Martin Luther King’s Commencement Speech

Martin Dobrow Their one and only meeting lasted barely a minute. On March 26, 1964, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X came to Washington to...

What happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream?

Brian Cooney  RINF Alternative News At a Dec. 10 ceremony in Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium honoring recently deceased Nelson Mandela, the crowd welcomed and applauded President...

Martin Luther King: “I Have Been To The Mountain Top”

Danny Schechter  RINF Alternative News Mountaintops offer dynamic vistas and symbolize not only physical heights but inspiring points of prominence. On the nightbefore he was murdered, Martin...

Martin Luther King’s Historic Plea to Break the Silence on Militarism

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual...

JFK, MLK, RFK, 50 Years of Suppressed History: New Evidence on Assassination of John...

In the last 50 years there have been two major threats to life on our planet. The first, the nuclear arms race and...

Zombified Youth Of America Believe Martin Luther King Died Last Week In A Car...

Will “probably catch the funeral on TV” Steve Watson Activist prankster Mark Dice is back with another video this week, highlighting the ongoing zombification of the...

Prominent Critics of Vietnam War Targeted by NSA: Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Art...

President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with members of his civil rights cabinet on 18 January including, from left to right, Martin Luther King Jr.,...

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Man of the Hard Left

On this 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, even the self-avowed apostles of “individualism,” “liberty,” and “limited government” – i.e., conservatives...

Martin Luther King and the Two 9/11s

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/martin_luther_king_and_the_two_9_11s_20130829/ Posted on Aug 29, 2013 ...

Obama at the Lincoln Memorial: Draping His Administration in the Mantle of Martin Luther...

President Barack Obama’s attempt to drape his administration in the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, and the 1963 March...

50 Years Later — West Defiles Martin Luther King’s Memory

Tony CartalucciInfowars.comAugust 29, 2013 The differences between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and current US President...

Memorializing Martin Luther King, Jr.

We often visit the monuments and museums along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and each time I am surprised at my heightened emotions...

What Would the Rev Martin Luther King Think of Obama’s Presidency?

Any of us who participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a combination of...

Martin Luther King: “My Dream is Not Obama”.

On August 28, the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, an event is being organized at the Lincoln Memorial by the...

Niece: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Not Wear A Hoodie

Niece of the slain civil rights leader says we need to stop dividing ourselves by race. Kit Daniels Infowars.com July 17, 2013 Dr....

On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign / ‘We will march...

By the Rev. C. D. Witherspoon The following press statement was released by Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Next...

Santa Clausifying Martin Luther King, Jr.

Santa Clausifying Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Posted on Feb 1, 2013
King statue
Kelly Branan

By David Sirota

Every year, right around the time between Martin Luther King Day and the beginning of Black History Month, the effort to distort Dr. King’s life and legacy seems to intensify. Some years, we see conservatives preposterously assert that if Dr. King were alive today, he would join today’s neo-confederate Republican Party. Other years, it is deception via omission—we see replays of Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, but do not see any of his speeches about war and poverty.
     
Princeton professor Cornel West accurately labels all this the “Santa Clausification” of Dr. King, and if you have ever heard or read a snippet of King’s 1967 Riverside Church speech, you will understand how apt the label is. You will also understand why this year’s most grotesque attempt to Santa Clausify Dr. King’s life is at once abhorrent and yet somewhat encouraging.
     
As The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald first reported, the United States Air Force’s Global Strike Command last week posted an online essay saying that Dr. King would cheer on soldiers “ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense.” Further, claimed the Air Force, “maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team ... is a fitting tribute to Dr. King.”
     
At the same time, the U.S. Marines commemorated Martin Luther King Day by tweeting out a famous King line—“a man who won’t die for something is not fit to live”—in a not-so-subtle attempt to depict him as a war supporter. That was a follow-up to a 2011 article posted on the Defense Department’s website with the headline: “King Might Understand Today’s Wars, Pentagon Lawyer Says.”
     
That gets us to the special relevance of the Riverside Church speech—the one that the Santa Clausifying Pentagon so obviously wants suppressed.
     
In that oratory, America’s most famous preacher of nonviolence deplored “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He argued that militarism is not the way to protect America and decried “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.” And he insisted that “there is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”
     
Comparing the Pentagon’s historical revisionism with King’s words, Greenwald says: “The U.S. military is actually publicly claiming that the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner and steadfast critic of U.S. imperialism would be an admirer of its massive stockpile of nuclear weapons, its global assassination programs and its covert use of violence in multiple countries around the world, including where no wars are declared. Merely to describe this agitprop is to illustrate its repulsiveness.”
     
He’s absolutely right, but in that repulsiveness there is a promising revelation from a political system in which lies signal desperation.
     
In this particular case, the Pentagon’s willingness to so boldly lie about Dr. King betrays its desperation to reverse accelerating public opinion trends. Specifically, Pentagon spinmeisters seem to realize that, according to polls, more Americans are raising King-like questions about our government’s profligate defense spending and its attempts to preference militarism over other priorities.
     
This suggests that for all the propaganda attempting to Santa Clausify Dr. King and make us forget what he was all about, we may, in fact, be starting to honor Dr. King’s legacy.
     
That’s no excuse for the propaganda, of course—but it is a promising sign that we may actually be closer than ever to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover,” “The Uprising” and “Back to Our Future.” Email him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

© 2013 CREATORS.COM

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Barack Obama versus Martin Luther King; The Mali Endgame, Imperial Handover

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“Obama is not the lesser of two evils, he is the more effective of two evils… Obama is getting away with things that no white president could get away with .. .those who have orchestrated his two terms are well aware of that.” -Jared Ball, crediting Glen Ford.

Obama is NOT the Realization of King’s Dream

Barrack Obama is the first African-American to hold the office of President of the United States. This is a major milestone to be sure. In 1963, when civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous and iconic “I have a Dream” speech, such an achievement would have seemed unachievable, if not unthinkable.

Considerable attention has been brought to the fact that this year, the date of his second and final presidential nomination falls on Martin Luther King Day. This would not be the first time comparisons have been made between the two men.

A popular sentiment in America is that the election of Barrack Obama to the US Presidency represents the realization of King’s dream. However, anyone who has taken a close look at Obama’s background and record in office should find this puzzling.

In one of his last speeches, King spoke of the triple evils not only of racism, but of materialism and militarism. Obama has overseen the expansion of Bush’s wars, as well as government bail-outs of financial interests implicated in the scandalous sub-prime mortgage fiasco. (Incidentally, seven of those Wall Street firms – Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse were by February 2008, among the top fourteen donors to Obama’s first campaign for US President. ) [1]

This week’s Global Research News Hour focuses on the role of Barack Obama within the framework of the American power structure. Our guest is Jared Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. The interview focuses on Obama’s track record in office, his inaugural address, and what his Cabinet picks tell us about his policy priorities moving forward.

Mali The End Game. Imperial Hand-Over?

In one of his most recent essays, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: Who’s Who? Who is Behind the Terrorists? Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization addresses the current crisis in Northern Mali, and the hostage-taking in Algeria.

Professor Chossudovsky spent years in Mali doing research work. In this interview he deconstructs the propaganda surrounding the rebel fighters in Northern Mali and presents the remarkable thesis that France’s military build-up to defeat rebel activity in Northern Mali is actually part of a re-colonization of former French Africa…by the US!

References

1) Pam Martens, “Obama’s Money Cartel“, Counterpunch.org,  May 8, 2008

LISTEN TO THE SHOW


Length (59:26)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour hosted by Michael Welch airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is broadcast weekly by CKUW News, 95.9 FM out of Winnipeg, MB, and on Canadian community radio networks. The weekly programme is available for download on the Global Research website.

Martin Luther King Jr. — Just Another Holy Man… Who Dared to Be a...

Mac Slavo
January 21st, 2013
SHTFplan.com

Read by 188 people

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

Like many freedom fighters, rebels and enemies of the state that came before and after him, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died standing up, a free man; not as a slave on his knees.

He, and those who’ve risked everything to spread the message of love, liberty, and peace, knew their duty – and the price they had to pay.

On this day, as the country remembers the works of Dr. King, we offer you the following from the late Floyd Westerman.

Youtube Direct

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 188 people
Date: January 21st, 2013
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

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Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint

Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King's name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.

So it is easy to forget that  in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.

In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power." He challenged America's class system and its racial caste system.  He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement.  He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers' strike.  He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country's misadventure in Vietnam.

In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it,  King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice. 

If he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget in order to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education, and health care.  He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of the Dream Act and comprehensive reform. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Indeed, King's views evolved over time. He entered the public stage with some hesitation, reluctantly becoming the spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 at the age of 26.  King began his activism in Montgomery as a crusader against the nation's racial caste system, but the struggle for civil rights radicalized him into a fighter for broader economic and social justice and peace. Still, in reviewing King's life, we can see that the seeds of his later radicalism were planted early. 

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, the son of a prominent black minister. Despite growing up in a solidly middle-class family, King saw the widespread human suffering caused by the Depression, particularly in the black community. In 1950, while in graduate school, he wrote an essay describing the "anti-capitalistic feelings" he experienced as a result of seeing unemployed people standing in breadlines.

During King's first year at Morehouse College, civil rights and labor activist A. Philip Randolph spoke on campus. Randolph predicted that the near future would witness a global struggle that would end white supremacy and capitalism. He urged the students to link up with "the people in the shacks and the hovels," who, although "poor in property," were "rich in spirit."

After graduating from Morehouse in 1948, King studied theology at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania (where he read both Mohandas Gandhi and Karl Marx), planning to follow in his father's footsteps and join the ministry. In 1955 he earned his doctorate from Boston University, where he studied the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, the influential liberal theologian. While in Boston, he told his girlfriend (and future wife), Coretta Scott, that "a society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people's needs is wrong."

When King moved to Montgomery to take his first pulpit at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he was full of ideas but had no practical experience in politics or activism. But history sneaked up on him. On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and veteran activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), decided to resist the city's segregation law by refusing to move to the back of the bus on her way home from work. She was arrested. Two other long-term activists -- E. D. Nixon (leader of the NAACP and of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) and Jo Ann Robinson (a professor at the all-black Alabama State College and a leader of Montgomery's Women's Political Council) -- determined that Parks' arrest was a ripe opportunity for a one-day boycott of the much-despised segregated bus system. Nixon and Robinson asked black ministers to use their Sunday sermons to spread the word. Some refused, but many others, including King, agreed.

The boycott was very effective. Most black residents stayed off the buses. Within days, the boycott leaders formed a new group, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). At Nixon's urging, they elected a hesitant King as president, in large part because he was new in town and not embroiled in the competition for congregants and visibility among black ministers. He was also well educated and already a brilliant orator, and thus would be a good public face for the protest movement. The ministers differed over whether to call off the boycott after one day but agreed to put the question up to a vote at a mass meeting.

That night, 7,000 blacks crowded into (and stood outside) the Holt Street Baptist Church. Inspired by King's words --"There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression"-- they voted unanimously to continue the boycott. It lasted for 381 days and resulted in the desegregation of the city's buses. During that time, King honed his leadership skills, aided by advice from two veteran pacifist organizers, Bayard Rustin and Rev. Glenn Smiley, who had been sent to Montgomery by the pacifist group, Fellowship of Reconciliation. During the boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, and he was subjected to personal abuse. But -- with the assistance of the new medium of television -- he emerged as a national figure.

In 1957 King launched the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to help spread the civil rights crusade to other cities. He helped lead local campaigns in different cities, including Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, where thousands marched to demand an end to segregation in defiance of court injunctions forbidding any protests. While participating in these protests, King also sought to keep the fractious civil rights movement together, despite the rivalries among the NAACP, the Urban League, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and SCLC. Between 1957 and 1968 King traveled over six million miles, spoke over 2,500 times, and was arrested at least 20 times, always preaching the gospel of nonviolence. King attended workshops at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, which connected him to a network of radicals, pacifists, and union activists from around the country whose ideas helped widen his political horizons.

It is often forgotten that the August 1963 protest rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous  "I Have a Dream" speech, was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King was proud of the civil rights movement's success in winning the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act the following year. But he realized that neither law did much to provide better jobs or housing for the masses of black poor in either the urban cities or the rural South. "What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter," he asked, "if you can't afford to buy a hamburger?"

King had hoped that the bus boycott, sit-ins, and other forms of civil disobedience would stir white southern moderates, led by his fellow clergy, to see the immorality of segregation and racism. His famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," written in 1963, outlines King's strategy of using nonviolent civil disobedience to force a response from the southern white establishment and to generate sympathy and support among white liberals and moderates. "The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation," he wrote, and added, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

King eventually realized that many white Americans had at least a psychological stake in perpetuating racism. He began to recognize that racial segregation was devised not only to oppress African Americans but also to keep working-class whites from challenging their own oppression by letting them feel superior to blacks. "The Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow," King said from the Capitol steps in Montgomery, following the 1965 march from Selma. "And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than a black man."

When King launched a civil rights campaign in Chicago in 1965, he was shocked by the hatred and violence expressed by working-class whites as he and his followers marched through the streets of segregated neighborhoods in Chicago and its suburbs. He saw that the problem in Chicago's ghetto was not legal segregation but "economic exploitation" -- slum housing, overpriced food, and low-wage jobs -- "because someone profits from its existence."

These experiences led King to develop a more radical outlook. King supported President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty in 1964, but, like his friend and ally Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers,  King thought that it did not go nearly far enough. As early as October 1964, he called for a "gigantic Marshall Plan" for the poor -- black and white. Two months later, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian "democratic socialism." He began talking openly about the need to confront "class issues," which he described as "the gulf between the haves and the have nots."

In 1966 King confided to his staff:

“You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."

Given this view, King was dismayed when Malcolm X, SNCC's Stokely Carmichael, and others began advocating "black power," which he warned would alienate white allies and undermine a genuine interracial movement for economic justice.

King became increasingly committed to building bridges between the civil rights and labor movements. Invited to address the AFL-CIO's annual convention in 1961, King observed, "The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them." In a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, King proclaimed, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children." Speaking to a meeting of Teamsters union shop stewards in 1967, King said, "Negroes are not the only poor in the nation. There are nearly twice as many white poor as Negro, and therefore the struggle against poverty is not involved solely with color or racial discrimination but with elementary economic justice."

King's growing critique of capitalism coincided with his views about American imperialism. By 1965 he had turned against the Vietnam War, viewing it as an economic as well as a moral tragedy. But he was initially reluctant to speak out against the war. He understood that his fragile working alliance with LBJ would be undone if he challenged the president's leadership on the war. Although some of his close advisers tried to discourage him, he nevertheless made the break in April 1967, in a bold and prophetic speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, entitled "Beyond Vietnam--A Time to Break Silence." King called America the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and linked the struggle for social justice with the struggle against militarism. King argued that Vietnam was stealing precious resources from domestic programs and that the Vietnam War was "an enemy of the poor." In his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), King wrote, "The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."

In early 1968, King told journalist David Halberstam, "For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values."

King kept trying to build a broad movement for economic justice that went beyond civil rights. In January 1968 he announced plans for a Poor People's Campaign, a series of protests to be led by an interracial coalition of poor people and their allies among the middle-class liberals, unions, religious organizations, and other progressive groups, to pressure the White House and Congress to expand the War on Poverty. At King's request, socialist activist Michael Harrington (author of The Other America, which helped inspire Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to declare a war on poverty) drafted a Poor People's Manifesto that outlined the campaign's goals. In April King was in Memphis, Tennessee, to help lend support to striking African American garbage workers and to gain recognition for their union. There he was assassinated at age 39 on April 4, a few months before the first protest action of the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, DC.

President Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge Congress to quickly enact the Fair Housing Act, legislation to ban racial discrimination in housing that King had strongly supported for two years. He signed the bill a week after King's assassination.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor, spearheaded by Detroit Congressman John Conyers, began soon after his murder, but it did not come up for a vote in Congress until 1979, when it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. In 1981, with the help of singer Stevie Wonder and other celebrities, supporters collected six million signatures on a petition to Congress on behalf of a King holiday.  Congress finally passed legislation enacting the holiday in 1983, fifteen years after King's death. But even then, 90 members of the House (including then-Congressmen John McCain of Arizona and Richard Shelby of Alabama, both now in the Senate) voted against it. Senator Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, led an unsuccessful effort -- supported by 21 other senators, including current Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) --  to block its passage in the Senate.

The holiday was first observed on January 20, 1986. In 1987 Arizona governor Evan Mecham rescinded King Day as his first act in office, setting off a national boycott of the state. Some states (including New Hampshire, which called it "Civil Rights Day" from 1991 to 1999) insisted on calling the holiday by other names.   In 2000 South Carolina became the last state to make King Day a paid holiday for all state employees.

In his final speech in Memphis the night before he was killed, King told the crowd about a bomb threat on his plane from Atlanta that morning, saying he knew that his life was constantly in danger because of his political activism.

"I would like to live a long life," he said. "Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."

We haven't gotten there yet. But Dr. King is still with us in spirit. The best way to honor his memory is to continue the struggle for human dignity, workers' rights, racial equality, peace, and social justice.

Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (2012, Nation Books). Other books include: Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and American Prospect. 

The Black Elite and the Legacy of Martin Luther King

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Bio

Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

Martin Luther King, when he was alive, was a representative and leader of African Americans, but of the working class, the black working class in particular. Now he seems to have become an icon, a symbol for the elite in general, some symbol of giving service to your community, but also of the black elite in particular.Now joining us to talk about Martin Luther King and his significance today and how his memory is dealt with is Glen Ford. He's the cofounder and current executive editor of Black Agenda Report. He also colaunched, produced, and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated black news interview program on commercial TV.Thanks for joining us, Glen.GLEN FORD, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLACKAGENDAREPORT.COM: Thanks for having me, Paul.JAY: So what do you make of what's been done with the memory of Martin Luther King, but particularly the role of the black elite in this?FORD: You seem to be talking about the emergence of what we call the black misleadership class. And I think we have to go back to 1968, the year that Martin was assassinated.By '68, almost all of the civil rights legal—narrow legal victories had been won. And in fact there was only one more major civil rights bill to pass, the Fair Housing Act, which would pass shortly after Martin's death. This demolition of legal Jim Crow was very useful to a class of black folks who could make use of this new mobility, that had certain educational and money resources, etc. They were equipped to use the civil rights revolution as a kind of launching board for their own careers and aspirations. And they did.And although the civil rights movement or the broad black movement was certainly damaged by federal repression, the COINTEL program, and at state and local levels, in a sense the movement was also shut down from within by these elements of the upper classes of black folks who decided that it was their time, it was their time to enter the corporate world, it was their time to run for political office, it was their time to cash in on the death of legalized Jim Crow. And they didn't want the continuation of a mass movement, the stirring up of stuff in the streets. Those who were going to run for political office, we know that the last thing that a mayor or an aspiring mayor wants is a people's movement in his city. The only kind of movement that a local public official wants is people moving towards the ballot box once every two or four years, and they want them quiet the rest of the time. So it was in the interest—or they saw it in the interests of this upwardly mobile, very acquisitive class, to shut down the movement and to preach a kind of gospel of sophisticated politics, which basically ruled out the kind of mass political activity that Dr. King had led.JAY: So talk a bit about the message of King, especially during the sort of last few years of his life, and the sort of things we're hearing from this sort of what you're calling black misleadership or black elite.FORD: Well, if we're going to describe King, I think he's aptly described as a left social democrat. Some people, like Dr. Tony Monteiro, who I know you've had on your show recently, calls Dr. King a revolutionary Democrat. He was—he did not think of himself as a nationalist. But he did refer to himself as a socialist. His staff always discouraged him from using that word.He differed from the social democrats that we know today in that he opposed U.S. imperialism, because he was a man of peace.~~~MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle upon Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create a hell for the poor.~~~FORD: So he was an antiwar activist before 1967, when he made the formal break with his speech at Riverside Church and broke with the president, with whom the movement that Dr. King was a leader in had made a kind of alliance, the president who had introduced and then signed these civil rights bills. Martin Luther King felt that he had to break with this sometimes ally because of the Vietnam War, and not just because of the immorality of the war, but because of the way militarism affects domestic policy as well.So, yeah, he was a left social democrat, a person who believed that politics should not be confined to the ballot box. He resisted all the entreaties from folks on the left who wanted him to run for office, because he saw politics as setting people in motion, and a ballot box is only one destination.JAY: And the way they're going to celebrate Martin Luther King is to—you know, you should do service, I think, for one—particularly on the Saturday, you should do a day's service for your community, or if you want to do more, that's the way to remember Martin Luther King, sort of doing this volunteer work. But you mentioned that King considered himself a socialist. And there was quite an anticapitalist character to his speeches in the last while of his life.FORD: Well, he talked about the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.~~~KING: I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.~~~FORD: And by extreme materialism, I think he was talking about the rule of the rich. And he got pretty explicit in terms of the rule of the masses of people by one moneyed class of people. He advocated back in 1967 a guaranteed national minimum income. He certainly preached a kind ofsocial gospel. And I also believe that politically we should call him a socialist, yes. He called himself that.JAY: So we've talked many times before about President Obama, and sort of some people have tried to give him the mantel of King. And I know you've been very critical of that. You wrote something recently about that. Do you think that's still going on? And if so, what do you make of it?FORD: It's insane. And what we wrote in our current article was that if King were alive, he would be celebrating his birthday week by organizing a massive disruption of the inauguration. And we didn't say that in fun. I really believe that would be the case. He would be appalled at this president, who has at one time bombed simultaneously five countries, has a kill list, and every Tuesday decides who's going to be on it, introduced and shepherded through our legislature a bill for preventive detention. This is a warmonger who surpasses in his militarism even George Bush. So how could anyone imagine that our prince of peace, as some folks refer to him, would not be dedicating all of his organizing efforts to disrupting this administration's warlike strategies in the world?FORD: In terms of people trying to say that there is some seamless line, a straight line between Dr. King and Barack Obama, that somehow Dr. King would think that his dream had truly been fulfilled if he could see this family in the White House today, it is so dishonest, especially for people who are public intellectuals, to encourage that kind of thinking.Dr. King, of all of our great leaders—I'm talking about great black leaders—was probably the leader who explained to the people all the facets of his thinking. He wrote books. He gave speeches not just as a movement leader, but as a public intellectual and as a statesman. He was a public figure who was as well known in his day as Mandela is today. He also knew the art of speaking to the corporate media. He knew how to speak in soundbites as well. So the workings of King's mind through his writings and his speeches and his interviews is no secret. And nowhere is there any evidence in these hundreds of thousands, millions of words, that Dr. King would be anything other than an opponent of this regime, this president, in terms of his domestic policies and his foreign policies.JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Glen.FORD: Thank you.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

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Barack Obama versus Martin Luther King Jr.

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The Greatest Way to Dishonor Martin Luther King Jr.

What’s the greatest way to dishonor Martin Luther King Jr.? Compare him with US President Barack Obama – a servant of an engine for the greatest disparity, inequality, and injustice on Earth – driven by the very corporate-financier interests King stood up against, was opposed by throughout his entire life, and most likely was killed by. For Martin Luther King Jr. – whose famous speeches still echo through the halls of time, who spoke a message of peace and of the importance of character over the mere color of one’s skin – he is ironically compared to Barack Obama simply because of the color of their skin, despite the fact that these two men possess the opposite in character, and represent infinitely opposing causes.

Image: A visual representation of the corporate-financier special interests represented by US President Barack Obama’s cabinet, past and present. 

….

Indeed, despite the left-leaning facade President Obama displays publicly, his entire cabinet, past and present, is a collection of corporate-financier special interests, warmongers, criminals, and elitists who merely couch a corporate-fascist, self-serving agenda behind well-meaning liberal-esque causes. A look at these characters more closely reveals just this:

Timothy Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury): Group of 30, Council on Foreign Relations, private Federal Reserve
Eric Holder (Attorney General): Covington & Burling lobbying for Merck and representing Chiquita International Brands in lawsuits brought by relatives of people killed by Colombian terrorists.
Eric Shinseki (Secretary of Veteran Affairs): US Army, Council on Foreign Relations, Honeywell director (military contractor), Ducommun director (military contractor).
Rahm Emanuel (former Chief of Staff): Freddie Mac
William Daley (former Chief of Staff): JP Morgan executive committee member
Jacob “Jack” Lew (Chief of Staff) Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings Institution (Hamilton Project)
Susan Rice (UN Ambassador): McKinsey and Company, Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations
Peter Orszag, (former Budget Director): Citi Group, Council on Foreign Relations
Paul Volcker: Council on Foreign Relations, private Federal Reserve, Group of 30
Ronald Kirk (US Trade Representative): lobbyist, part of Goldman Sachs, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, and Texas Pacific Group partnership to buyout Energy Future Holdings.
Lawrence Summers (National Economic Council Director): World Bank, Council on Foreign Relations

Image: Brookings Institution’s corporate backers – clearly nothing to do with left-leaning liberal a

….

Of course, representation of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution (page 19, .pdf) should give any genuine left-leaning liberal pause for thought. These are think-tanks created by and for big business. The Brookings Institution in particular is home of the very architects of “George Bush’s” myriad of wars – wars the faux-left in America claim Obama only grudgingly has been stuck with.

In reality, his policy is driven by not only the exact same corporate-financier interests that drove Bush’s, but in fact, many of the exact same individuals are writing the policy versus nations like Libya, Syria, and Iran today who were behind “Bush’s” Iraq and Afghanistan wars – the consequences of which still are reverberating. This is what is called, “continuity of agenda,” with the feigned political proclivities of both Bush and Obama being nothing more than carefully orchestrated theater to divide and distract the public as a singular agenda transcends presidencies and perceived political lines.

And in reality, Martin Luther King Jr., should he still walk this world today, would undoubtedly be taking the podium and speaking out against this outrageous conspiracy against free humanity, and the affront to equality poseurs like President Barack Obama are attempting to foist upon the public and the world at large. He would undoubtedly condemn the global war Obama is waging from Mali to Libya, from Syria to Afghanistan and the borders of Pakistan, from Yemen to Somalia, to Uganda and beyond.

In a speech given on April 4, 1967 in New York City titled, “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence,” King gives what is perhaps the widest encapsulation of his philosophy and worldview, one that would undoubtedly criticize and clash with the disingenuous US presidents of today, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And the beauty of the equality King helped usher in is, the fact that Obama is black should not shield him from the criticism of the very man that helped pave the way for his accession to office.

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One section of King’s enlightening speech criticizing the Vietnam War states:

“It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.”

It is safe to say that America has not mended its ways and only traveled further down the dark path King warned us of back in 1967. The man “leading” us, or at least the front-man for the corporate-financier interests that drive America’s destiny, may honor King with carefully contrived words and well orchestrated public stunts, but in deeds and actions Obama and the corporate-financier elite that hold his leash, defame and dishonor King in every way imaginable.

If you want to honor King and his life’s work, honor it by implementing the words he uttered while alive, not by playing along with a system that resisted him until his death, and has since dishonored and exploited his memory with disingenuous praise while maliciously carrying out an agenda contra to everything King ever stood for.

You can read and listen to the whole April 4, 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence” on AmericanRhetoric.com.

Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Radical, Not a Saint

It is easy to forget that in his day King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

January 20, 2013  |  

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Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King's name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.

So it is easy to forget that  in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.

In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power." He challenged America's class system and its racial caste system.  He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement.  He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers' strike.  He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country's misadventure in Vietnam.

In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it,  King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice. 

If  he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget in order to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education, and health care.  He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of the Dream Act and comprehensive reform. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Indeed, King's views evolved over time. He entered the public stage with some hesitation, reluctantly becoming the spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 at the age of 26.  King began his activism in Montgomery as a crusader against the nation's racial caste system, but the struggle for civil rights radicalized him into a fighter for broader economic and social justice and peace. Still, in reviewing King's life, we can see that the seeds of his later radicalism were planted early. 

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, the son of a prominent black minister. Despite growing up in a solidly middle-class family, King saw the widespread human suffering caused by the Depression, particularly in the black community. In 1950, while in graduate school, he wrote an essay describing the "anti-capitalistic feelings" he experienced as a result of seeing unemployed people standing in breadlines.

During King's first year at Morehouse College, civil rights and labor activist A. Philip Randolph spoke on campus. Randolph predicted that the near future would witness a global struggle that would end white supremacy and capitalism. He urged the students to link up with "the people in the shacks and the hovels," who, although "poor in property," were "rich in spirit."

After graduating from Morehouse in 1948, King studied theology at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania (where he read both Mohandas Gandhi and Karl Marx), planning to follow in his father's footsteps and join the ministry. In 1955 he earned his doctorate from Boston University, where he studied the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, the influential liberal theologian. While in Boston, he told his girlfriend (and future wife), Coretta Scott, that "a society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people's needs is wrong."

The Radicalization of Martin Luther King

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Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

The revolutionary leader the governing elites would render harmless they name streets after. The number of streets named after Martin Luther King is increasing every year, and about 70 percent of those streets are in southern states. King's home state of Georgia has the most, with over 105 streets. At least 730 cities have named streets after Martin Luther King—only 11 states in the country without a street named after him. Now joining us from Philadelphia to talk about the radical Martin Luther King and the real significance of his life is professor of African-American studies Anthony Monteiro. He's at Temple University in Philadelphia.Thanks for joining us, Anthony.MONTEIRO: Thank you, Paul, for having me.JAY: So talk about the memory of Martin Luther King. When I go on the internet and I look at Martin Luther King Day, the first thing I see is you should volunteer on that day, do some service for your community for the day. MONTEIRO: Yeah. Well, that seems to be the way a lot of people think that you celebrate the life of King, by having a day——and the emphasis being on a day of service, rather than a week of service and a month of service, and maybe a year or a lifetime of service, to the causes of peace, antiwar, the fight against racism, and the overcoming of this deepening poverty in our society.JAY: Now, Martin Lutherc King, certainly near the end of his life, and perhaps earlier, but he was not shy about using words like imperialism and capitalism, and his language became increasingly radical as he became older. What was this process of the radicalization of King?MONTEIRO: Well, you know, Paul, I contend that King's radicalization goes back to his time at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. And, you know, this was right after World War II and Christian theologians and public intellectuals in general were asking questions about the German churches, Protestant and Lutheran, and their going along with Hitler except for a few people. And one of those people was a pastor, Lutheran pastor, by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who along with others set up an underground church called the anti-Nazi church of Germany. And King encounters Bonhoeffer through his studies at Crozer. And I am of the opinion that when we look at King's writings, in particular let us say the Letter from a Birmingham Jail and his last really great speech, which was the one at Riverside Church on the war in Vietnam, we hear him using phrases like "the fierce urgency of Now," "procrastination is still the thief of time." In the Letter from Birmingham Jail he talks about "the tragic misconception of time." So he's always talking about this urgent need for Christians to act. And I think he comes to that position after examining, among other things, the situation in Germany, where Christians espouse their beliefs, but when it came to action, they were either intimidated or felt that time would resolve all of these problems. So I think King begins a radical trajectory pretty much in his years at Crozer Theological Seminary. And, of course, we see the same thing when he goes to Boston University and he studies systematic theology, which is really a radical turn for that day in the study of theology, where reason is not seen as the opposite and a competitor with faith. But he was trying—as others were doing—synthesize reason with faith, the world with Christian belief, and that the Christians, as King would conclude, are defined not by what they say, but ultimately by what they do in the struggles for justice.JAY: And this trajectory takes him to a place where he doesn't—if you look at the language of his, you know, last speeches, he doesn't define the struggle as one between good and evil, really, and he certainly doesn't define it as one between white and black. He talks about imperialism as a system. He talks about U.S. imperialism. And he talks about capitalism. He talks about class.MONTEIRO: Yeah. Well, he never defined the struggle as a struggle between white and black. And good and evil were metaphors, ultimately, for social forces in the society. And he would become more concrete in defining good and evil. Well, evil, of course, was the system of segregation, of the oppression of black people that went back, of course, to slavery. But then, of course, evil ultimately became the system that produces war and produces and reproduces poverty and the exploitation of working people. So you're absolutely right. That kind of moral framing of the issue was not disconnected from a deep political and economic understanding of, as you put it, the capitalist system. And that's precisely where he was going.His life is ended in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is organizing workers. Now, we have to take a step back, perhaps, to really understand the significance of that. First of all, the South was even viewed by most trade unionists as unorganizable because of the existence of racism and because of the fact that the political and economic establishments of the South not only oppressed black people but prevented workers from organizing. But even deeper than that, if we go back to W. E. B. Du Bois's great work, Black Reconstruction in America, Du Bois begins that work—the first chapter is entitled "The Black Worker". And Du Bois is talking about the southern black worker. So it seems to me that King ends his life in this great campaign to organize the unorganized and to organize the poor. And to me that is a great legacy. And it is a 21st-century legacy. And that is the legacy that we have to celebrate. But more than celebrate, we have to defend it.JAY: So if you look at how Martin Luther King Day is celebrated now, Michelle Obama, you know, calling on people to volunteer for the day, people get the day off in governments and banks—I don't know about other workplaces; I guess some do—the reason for doing this is because the man had such impact that they have to do something with his historical memory. Speak a bit about that.MONTEIRO: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That legacy is too powerful for the elites. They have to minimize it. They have to distort it. They have to eviscerate it. They have to cheapen it. Besides, you know, First Lady Obama calling for people to do service, I am particularly offended by the fact that the president will be sworn in using Martin Luther King's Bible. To me it's a cheap PR trick. This president has nothing in common with King the man, and his presidency is the opposite of the great legacy of Martin Luther King. You know, King's legacy is a gift not only to black Americans or to America but to humanity. And here we have a president who in many ways is George Bush on steroids—wars in every part of the world, preparation for war, economic wars against nations like Iran, actual wars in Africa, and so on and so forth. This is the very opposite of what Martin Luther King represents. And therefore, you know, we've got to defend that legacy. And that's part of the battle of ideas that we're involved in at this time.JAY: Now, Martin Luther King led a civil rights movement. He didn't call it, I don't think, a black civil rights movement. It may have been majority African Americans that were in it, African Americans may have led it, but it was a people's movement. In a lot of cities—and I have to talk a bit about my experience here in Baltimore—there's a great divide between the white left and the black left. You see, you hear young black militants talking about, well, you know, blacks need to just organize blacks first, and there's a kind of unease about working or allying with whites. I mean, what's the lesson for King in terms of dealing with this kind of a question?MONTEIRO: Well, of course, you're hitting on the current realities that grow out of the great and evil legacy that is the United States of America and slavery and the wounds and the fact that too often—you mention the white left—has been less than effective in the mobilization and organization of white working people to join in solidarity with black working people. So, you know, while we can point to black nationalism as a problem—.JAY: Can I just jump in for one sec on this?MONTEIRO: Go ahead. Yes.JAY: Do you not think that what you're describing is post-Cold War? Like, in the 1930s, '20s, do you not think there was far more mobilization of white workers in solidarity with black workers? But when they kind of cleanse the trade unions of militants and the left and communists and such, they also got rid of those people that would do such things.MONTEIRO: Well, there's no question about that. I mean, you know, when you have a communist party of over 100,000 members who are activists and who are committed to the fight against racism, that can make a profound difference.Now, at the same time, even while that was going on in these great campaigns of the CIO and the Scottsboro case and, you know, the Southern Negro Youth Congress and the National Negro Congress and all of these things going on and headway was being made against racism and there were campaigns to get anti-lynching laws, a federal anti-lynching law, the fact of the matter is the job was only partially completed. And you're absolutely right. After World War II, as we enter the Cold War, we have a frontal attack, beginning with the Truman administration, with, ultimately, the collaboration of George Meany and that leadership of the AFL-CIO, which said that even the fight against racism was an act promoted by subversives and communists.So I don't know whether I'm making myself perfectly clear, but I would agree with you that these 60-some, almost 70 years of the Cold War and Cold War ideology has severely damaged the struggle for unity of blacks and whites in the country. And you're absolutely right about the fact that, you know, there's damage on both sides of the color line. But the overarching problem remains the problem of racism and white supremacy and its influence upon vast numbers of white Americans, and the lack of leadership, either coming from the trade union movement or other progressive civil society organizations, or for that matter from the left, that can effectively reverse that tide.JAY: So in terms of the kind of momentum and such mass mobilization that took place under King, why do we see so little of it now?MONTEIRO: Oh, boy. That is—. Well, you know, I would say that, as you mentioned, the assassination of Martin Luther King could be considered a Cold War imperative. King threatened not just the domestic arrangements of race and class, but King's leadership threatened the capacity of the United States government to impose its will and to become, as King said, the policemen of the whole world, and thus impose its empire, its military, upon the rest of the world. And so I consider the assassination of King to have been a Cold War imperative.JAY: Well, this is just the beginning of a discussion. And we won't wait for another Martin Luther King Day to come around, because we believe in voluntary service more than one day a year. Thanks very much for joining us.MONTEIRO: Thank you, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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America Betrayed Rev. Dr. King Gagged His Condemning US Wars for Predatory Investments

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Obama, Mandela, King and the Paradox of Progress

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JFK and 9/11: Unmasking Deep State Power

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CIA Looking at Your Financial Transactions: Collecting Records from the Likes of Western Union...

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CIA Looking at Your Financial Transactions

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Snowden: ‘Speaking the Truth Is Not a Crime’

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Bernice King backs Canada aborigines

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Movements Making Noise

American political history is usually told as the story of what political elites say and do. The twists and turns, advances and setbacks, wars, A Zapatista army. disasters and recoveries, are said to be the work of the founders, or of the presidents, or of the courts, or of the influence of a handful of great people who somehow emerge from the mass.

But this history can also be told as the story of the great protest movements that periodically well up from the bottom of American society and the impact these movements have on American institutions. There would be no founders to memorialize without the Revolutionary-era mobs who provided the foot soldiers to fight the British; no films about the quandaries of Abe Lincoln during the Civil War without the abolitionists and the thousands of runaway slaves; no Labor Day to celebrate without the sit-down strikers; no Martin Luther King to beatify without a movement of poor blacks who defied the Southern terror system.

When historians look back at the decades of the transition to the twenty-first century, I think they will see a distinctive era of tumult and protest, in the United States and across the globe. The perspective gained by the passage of time will show the broad similarities of these protests—both in their scale and in the societal upheavals they reflect and foretell—to the popular insurgencies of the nineteenth century that accompanied the spread of capitalist industrialization. In both periods, dramatic changes in the economy meant new hardships, broken compacts, and the uprooting of peoples from familiar places and accustomed ways of life. In the nineteenth century, some named the new system driving these developments “capitalism” or “industrialism.” Now we name the monster machine propelling diverse local disasters “neoliberal globalization.”

It is not easy to fix the exact moment that this era of popular protest against neoliberalism began. Maybe it was with the rise of the indigenous Zapatista movement in the early 1990s. Peasants from the Lacandon jungle armed themselves with wooden rifles (as well as real guns) and proclaimed neoliberal globalization as the target of their protests. Remarkably, they found an eager worldwide audience, and their uprising helped to give energy and élan to the emerging global justice movement. Soon after, in the wake of the imposition of austerity policies by the IMF and international finance, popular insurgencies spread across Latin America, toppling governments and challenging American domination of the hemisphere, with consequences that are still unfolding. Other uprisings spread across North Africa, from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya and Syria. Meanwhile, youthful insurgents mounted protests against austerity policies across Europe. In England, groups like UK Uncut targeted austerity policies, which were also the backdrop for the huge street riots in 2011; in Spain, there were the Indignados; in France, the riots by young people from the banlieues; in Greece, anarchist youths mounted continuous street protests against the austerity measures imposed by the Greek government and European financial overlords; and students in Canada, the UK, Chile and elsewhere mobilized campaigns against higher fees and mounting student debts. In Quebec, a large and tenacious student movement even won its main demands.

This worldwide upheaval is also unfolding in the United States. True, there was an interregnum after the Battle of Seattle in 1999, when not much seemed to be happening, even as inequality soared, wages stagnated, and public programs were slashed. Then, in the face of growing anti-immigrant fervor, the immigrants’ rights protests erupted, followed by the activism of immigrant youths over the Dream Act. New attacks on public-sector worker rights in states where Republicans made gains in 2010 led to huge and sustained protest rallies in Madison and elsewhere, and in Ohio the attack was beaten back. In Chicago, the teachers union took on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and together with mobilized parents won a contract fight that highlighted not only job security but educational quality. And in recent weeks, small-scale actions by Walmart warehouse and retail workers associated with OUR Walmart have raised hopes for a union breakthrough at the world’s retail giant. And of course there is Occupy, the chameleon-like movement that is the master of the spectacle and the message.

In fact, it is spectacles and messages, parades and banners and exultant crowds, that usually come to mind when we think of movements. Those images do indeed convey part of what movements do: they use the drama of the street spectacle to raise issues that political elites paper over and to recruit new adherents to the movement. Sometimes movement drama and spectacle even succeed in dispelling some of the rhetorical fog and complexity that obscure what is actually happening in government.

But the great movements that changed the course of our history accomplished more than spectacle and communication: they actually exercised power. They forced elites to inaugurate reforms that they otherwise would have avoided, as when the writers of the Constitution bent to popular enthusiasm for direct democracy and ceded to voters the right to elect representatives to the lower house, or when the Thirteenth Amendment was passed during the Civil War ending chattel slavery. Or, later in the nineteenth century, when Congress responded to widespread agitation among farmers and workers with legislation to curb monopolies. Or in the 1930s, when the national government finally granted workers the right to organize and inaugurated the first government income-support programs. Or when the Southern apartheid system was struck down in response to the civil rights movement. Or when the antiwar movement helped to force the withdrawal of American forces from Southeast Asia.

None of these reforms were as far-reaching or complete as movement activists had hoped, but neither would any of them have occurred without those movements. So just what is it that movements do that sometimes gives them power, at least so long as the movement is surging?

© 2013 The Nation

Frances Fox Piven

Frances Fox Piven is professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she has taught since 1982. Her latest book, just published, is Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven? The Essential Writings of the Professor Glenn Beck Loves to Hate (The New Press). She is the author and co-author of numerous books, including The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush's Militarism (2004) and Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (2006), and has received career and lifetime achievement awards fromt he American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association. Frances has been featured on Democracy Now!, and regular contributor to The Nation

King: I Have a Dream. Obama: I Have a Drone.

President Barack Obama during his speech accepting the 2009 Nobel Peace prize in Oslo, Norway, Thursday , Dec. 10, 2009. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)President Barack Obama during his speech accepting the 2009 Nobel Peace prize in Oslo, Norway, Thursday , Dec. 10, 2009. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago -- but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”

After his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, King went on to take great risks as a passionate advocate for peace.

After his Inaugural speech in January 2009, Obama has pursued policies that epitomize King’s grim warning in 1967: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”

But Obama has not ignored King’s anti-war legacy. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to distort and belittle it.

In his eleventh month as president -- while escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a process that tripled the American troop levels there -- Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his speech, he cast aspersions on the peace advocacy of another Nobel Peace laureate: Martin Luther King Jr.

The president struck a respectful tone as he whetted the rhetorical knife before twisting. “I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naive -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King,” he said, just before swiftly implying that those two advocates of nonviolent direct action were, in fact, passive and naive. “I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people,” Obama added.

Moments later, he was straining to justify American warfare: past, present, future. “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” Obama said. “I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.”

Then came the jingo pitch: “Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.”

Crowing about the moral virtues of making war while accepting a peace prize might seem a bit odd, but Obama’s rhetoric was in sync with a key dictum from Orwell: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

Laboring to denigrate King’s anti-war past while boasting about Uncle Sam’s past (albeit acknowledging “mistakes,” a classic retrospective euphemism for carnage from the vantage point of perpetrators), Obama marshaled his oratory to foreshadow and justify the killing yet to come under his authority.

Two weeks before the start of Obama’s second term, the British daily The Guardian noted that “U.S. use of drones has soared during Obama’s time in office, with the White House authorizing attacks in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is estimated that the CIA and the U.S. military have undertaken more than 300 drone strikes and killed about 2,500 people.”

The newspaper reported that a former member of Obama’s “counter-terrorism group” during the 2008 campaign, Michael Boyle, says the White House is now understating the number of civilian deaths due to the drone strikes, with loosened standards for when and where to attack: “The consequences can be seen in the targeting of mosques or funeral processions that kill non-combatants and tear at the social fabric of the regions where they occur. No one really knows the number of deaths caused by drones in these distant, sometimes ungoverned, lands.”

Although Obama criticized the Bush-era “war on terror” several years ago, Boyle points out, President Obama “has been just as ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law as his predecessor.”

Boyle’s assessment -- consistent with the conclusions of many other policy analysts -- found the Obama administration’s use of drones is “encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent.”

In recent weeks, more than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition to Ban Weaponized Drones from the World. The petition says that “weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs or chemical weapons.” It calls for President Obama “to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his ‘kill list’ program regardless of the technology employed.”

Count on lofty rhetoric from the Inaugural podium. The spirit of Dr. King will be elsewhere.

From White Sheets to Spreadsheets

By Greg Palast for Truthdig I hate to spoil a happy ending. The movie “Selma,” like this week’s commemorations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma, Ala., 50 years ago, celebrates America’s giant leap from apartheid. Half a century ago Alabama state troopers and a mob of racist thugs beat African-Americans and others as they [...]

Koch Family Exposed As John Birchers And JFK Haters

If you watched, as I did, the glut of JFK assassination documentaries this past November, you must have wondered why none of them built the case for a conspiracy. Despite a mountain of evidence indicating that JFK was murdered by a secret cabal of intelligence/military operatives, facilitated by LBJ and his billionaire oilmen supporters. PBS, by and large a credible investigative source of investigative journalism, was out in front of this pack of broadcast liars with such blatant historical frauds as "Cold Case JFK" and "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" Why was the truth squashed? For the answer, all you have to do is follow the money. Who paid for these disinformation pieces? David Koch, that's who. That's right, PBS sold its journalistic integrity down the river for a few shekels from one of the most vitriolic and extreme right-wing billionaires in America.

If you don't know David Koch, let me give you some background. He is one of the richest men in America. He and his brother are right-wing fanatics committed to abolishing Social Security, taxation of the wealthy, Medicare, minimum wages, and voting rights for minorities. He has spent millions trying to prove that Obama is a socialist Muslim who was born in Kenya. He is a lying, tax-dodging, Kennedy-hating, fascist Oligarch. He can buy anything he wants, and the truth is for sale. And the family's extremist politics did not start with the brothers. Their father, Fred Koch, an oil billionaire and member of the John Birch Society, paid for hateful posters which were passed out in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The posters had front and side views of JFK beneath the headline "Wanted For Treason." So maybe there's good reason not to trust the Oswald-did-alone documentary paid for by the Kochs. You think?

The Koch family history is not tied to just the John Birch Society; there is evidence that the German Kochs were Nazis. There are some who believe that Ilse Koch, the notorious "Bitch of Buchenwald" was related to the American Kochs. She was the wife of Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp. After World War II, Ilse was tried for war crimes and imprisoned by a U.S. tribunal. Information connecting Ilse and Koch Industries is hard to find but is a string of fragments, pieces of information that connects the American and German Kochs and this connection gives us a clear image of the sentiment behind the Tea Party and conservative American politics since the 1950s. Where is the connection between the German Kochs and Fred Koch? Besides evidence the American Koch was related to Ilse’s family, Erich Koch (an important Nazi official in charge of Prussia) induced Fred Koch to sell his oil in Nazi Germany when Fred was banned from doing business in the US. After the fall of Nazi Germany, Erich Koch and Fred expanded their oil empire to the Soviet Union. A few years later the Soviets took Fred Koch’s oil and prosecuted Erich for war crimes – Fred Koch returned to the US, became anti-communist, and was allowed to do business in the States again.

The links between the American and Nazi Kochs are tenuous, but they certainly shared the same political ideologies. What we know for certain about the Kochs in America comes from this article in the summer 2014 issue of "The Progressive":

"In 1961, at the age of twenty-six, Charles Koch moved home to Wichita, Kansas, to work for Rock Island Oil and Refining Company, which was led by his father, Fred Koch, who was on the national council of the John Birch Society. Charles subsequently opened a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita with a friend of his father, Bob Love, the owner of the Love Box Company in Wichita, according to Dan Schulman’s Sons of Wichita. The John Birch Society’s 'American Opinion Bookstores' were stocked with material opposing the civil rights movement Birchers had put up billboards in Kansas and elsewhere calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who had ordered the desegregation of the public schools in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. There’s no indication that Fred or Charles objected to the Birch campaign to impeach Warren. There are indications they paid for ads in Dallas in 1963 with President John F. Kennedy’s head depicted like two mug shot photos, with the word 'Treason' below, shortly before the assassination of the President ... Or when [Birchers] opposed the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, based on the Bircher claim that the movement was created as a forty-year front for the communists. Or when [they] supported billboards calling Martin Luther King a communist."

http://neverlandpublishing.com/tpm.html



US State-Sponsored Terrorism

US State-Sponsored Terrorism

by Stephen Lendman

Washington notoriously points fingers the wrong way. It whitewashes its own crimes. 

Its latest Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 omits the world's leading sponsor. More on it below. 

Terrorism is what they do, not us, it's claimed. Reasons why imperial wars are waged are suppressed. 

Might justifies right. Nations are destroyed to free them. Lives and freedoms lost don't matter. They're small prices to pay.

Mind manipulation turns truth on its head. People are convinced wrongs are right. Wars are glorified in the name of peace.

Peaceful countries become cauldrons of violence. Instability rocks them. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and others are US imperial victims.

So is Ukraine. It's a global flashpoint. Potentially it's worst of all. It threatens to spin out-of-control. It risks regional conflict. Possible East/West confrontation looms.

Washington bears full responsibility for numerous world hot spots. Imperialism works this way. It instigates violence. It fosters instability.

It promotes state-sponsored terrorism. It's what we do, not them. More on this below.

On April 30, the State Department issued its "annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism…" It covers the period January 1 - December 31, 2013. 

"It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations."

It bears repeating. The world's top sponsor by far is omitted. None in human history compare.

Washington uses Al Qaeda and similar groups strategically. They're allies and enemies at the same time. They're core elements of American imperial wars. 

Tina Kaidanow is US ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism. In 2013, terrorism evolved rapidly, she said. 

"The international community’s successful efforts to degrade al-Qaida, or AQ, senior leadership in Pakistan, coupled with weak governance and instability in the Middle East and Northwest Africa have accelerated the decentralization of what we refer to as al-Qaida core," she added. 

"This has led to the affiliates in the AQ network becoming more operationally autonomous from AQ core and increasingly focused on local and regional objectives."

"The past several years have seen the emergence of a more aggressive set of AQ affiliates and likeminded groups, most notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Northwest Africa, and Somalia."

"Iran's state-sponsorship of terrorism and Hezbollah's activities are also of significant concern," she claimed. 

"Interdictions in the past year have found Iran attempting to smuggle arms and Iranian explosives to Syria, to Yemen, and also to arm Shia opposition groups in Bahrain." 

"And the IRGC Qods Force, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shia militant groups have all been providing a broad range of critical support to the Assad regime since the start of the conflict."

Fake Washington-hyped terror threats persist. It's done to generate fear. America's only enemies are ones it invents. Demagogic duplicity claims otherwise. It turns truth on its head.

Inconvenient truths are buried. Michael Parenti exposed the terrorism trap. He did so post-9/11. Wars are waged "to keep the world safe for the Fortune 500," he said.

"To make sure that the transnational corporations and international global finance capital continues to control the land, labor, resources, and markets of most of the world, and ultimately, all of the world on terms that are extremely favorable to them." 

"The goal is to destroy, to obliterate, to thwart any social movement or national leader who is trying for an alternative way of using the land, the labor, the natural resources, the markets, the capital of his or her country."

To institute a homeland police state apparatus. To destroy freedom in the name of stability. To lose both at the same time. To continue waging war on humanity. 

To claim it's about spreading democracy. To tolerate it nowhere. To crush it wherever it emerges. To institute Washington rules. To enforce hardline rule. 

To demand absolute obedience. To tolerate no outliers. To ravage humanity in the name of saving it. To make planet earth unfit to live on.

State-sponsored terrorism defines US policy. Demagogic duplicity conceals it.

US law calls "international terrorism" activities involving:

(A) "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;"

(B) are intended to -

(i) "intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...."

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) called it "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."

Merriam-Webster calls it "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion."

The Oxford Dictionary calls it "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."

In his book "Terrorism, Theirs and Ours," the late Eqbal Ahmad called state-sponsored terrorism most important of all. 

It includes "torture, burning of villages, destruction of entire peoples, (and) genocide" on a massive scale.

It's called "self-defense," protecting "national security," and/or "promoting democracy." Doing so conceals America's dark side. War on humanity follows.

"Who will define the parameters of terrorism, or decide where terrorists lurk," asked Ahmad? 

"Why none other than the United States, which can from the rooftops of the world set out its claim to be sheriff, judge and hangman, all at one and the same time."

Martin Luther King called America "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." He did so for good reason. 

It's more menacing than ever. At stake is humanity's survival. Aggression is called humanitarian intervention. Freedom is crushed for our own good.

Big Lies substitute for truth. They proliferate to advance America's imperium. Mind manipulation convinces people to go along.

Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are called terrorists. US-led NATO takes full advantage. 

Eastern European deployments continue. Doing so encroaches provocatively closer to Russia's borders.

Georgia and Russia share a common one. Its Defense Minister Irakli Alasania wants more NATO troops deployed internally.

He calls them "defensive actions," saying:

"(T)his is something we need to put in Georgia and Russians will understand that you are serious."

Americans and Europeans must work together, he stressed. It's "important for the United States to show leadership…to make sure (NATO's) next steps will be an adequate response to what's happening in Ukraine."

"We are talking about the Membership Action Plan, but we don’t really know how these discussions will end up, while, honestly, in fact after (developments in) Ukraine we should be talking about accession talks of Georgia and other aspirants to NATO."

According to NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow:

"We need to step up our support for defense reforms and military modernization of Russia's neighbors, and not just of Ukraine, but also Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan."

On April 27, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined "Russian and Ukrainian armies shaping up for initial military clash over Slavyansk," saying:

"The outcome will determine who controls the Donetsk region and possibly all of East of Ukraine…"

"(I)t might be the last straw that undermines (Kiev's) shaky rule." Ukraine's military is no match against Russia's.

"Its threat to blockade the more than a dozen towns where separatists are entrenched in official buildings is unconvincing."

DF sees no broad international coalition for a "strong stand" against Russia forthcoming. Obama may be largely on his own.

On April 30, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds."

"Nearly Half Surveyed in WSJ/NBC Poll Back Anti-Interventionist Stance That Sweeps Across Party Lines."

Only 38% of Americans approve how Obama handles foreign policy. It's the low water mark of his presidency.

According to Democrat pollster Fred Yang:

"The juxtaposition of an America that wants to turn inward and away from world affairs, and a strong feeling of powerlessness domestically, is a powerful current that so far has eluded the grasp of Democrats and Republicans."

"The message from the American public to their leaders in this poll seems to be: You need to take care of business here at home."

Public support for Obama's handling Ukrainian crisis conditions dropped to 37%. In March it was 43%.

On April 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Washington isn't "concerned (about) the fate of Ukraine…but (has) a strong desire to prove (it) decides how things should be - always and everywhere."

Lavrov wants US officials to "discipline" putschists it elevated to power. Do it instead of sanctioning Russia, he stressed.

Moscow urges constructive dialogue, he added. "US and EU representatives have blocked this initiative," he said.

"We’ll continue to call for the full implementation of the Geneva Declaration, which our partners are trying to distance themselves from."

"But we cannot decide for the self-defense forces. Those people live under a constant threat coming from Kiev that the military and armored vehicles will be used against them; under constant threat from the extremists."

At the same time, Russia bashing persists. Eight Republican senators introduced hostile legislation. 

If enacted, it'll strengthen NATO, enhance missile defense for offense, provide military aide to Ukraine, and sanction Russia's banking and energy sectors.

On Wednesday, coup-appointed president Oleksandr Turchynov said Ukraine's military went on full alert. 

"Special tactical exercises" were held. Military forces were deployed on Kiev streets.

On Tuesday, Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Kiev, "encouraged by Western 'friends,' is persistently pushing the country towards a catastrophe."

US imperialism bears full responsibility. State terrorism defines it. War on humanity persists. 

Ukraine is in the eye of the storm. Flashpoint conditions risk spreading things out-of-control. 

Obama's latest imperial adventurism risks global war. He's mindless about what's potentially unfolding.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Ukraine: The Lies Of Empire And The Smokescreen of Democracy

Countercurrents 28/2/2014, Global Research 1/3/2014 and The 4th Media 3/3/2014

John Herbst, US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, this week gave an interview to the RT television channel about current developments in Ukraine. According to Herbst, what we are witnessing is a peaceful uprising against an authoritarian, oppressive regime. He is unequivocal about this. He said that the protests and protesters are being smeared and discredited, and the only ones wanting to portray the opposition in Ukraine as being ultra nationalist, neo Nazis and violent are those who fear democracy on their own doorstep (i.e. Russia).

Herbst says the protests are a reaction to four years of oppressive government. While admitting that Yanokovych won a free and fair election in 2010, Herbst argues since that time he has put increasingly authoritarian strictures on the opposition and asserts that Yanokovych authorised the use of armed snipers against unarmed protesters.


In response to certain reports that state it was the opposition that first started any firing, Herbst says that such a claim is simply a lie. Herbst quotes Orwell to imply that people and sections of the media are not only lying, but are propagandising by using smear words about the protesters, such as ‘ultra nationalists’ or ‘anti-Semitic’


As far as an attack on a Jewish synagogue in Ukraine is concerned, he merely asks who attacked it and answers his own question with “Nobody knows” and that it is quite likely the attackers were “provocateurs.” Despite ‘nobody knowing’ he immediately implies it was carried out by former government forces to discredit the opposition.


For a man who refers to Orwell, his words flow easily with doublespeak and hypocrisy. While he doesn’t appear to know who attacked the synagogue, not wanting to apportion any wrong doings to the people the US has supported in Kiev, he is conveniently adamant that government snipers gunned down protesters, which is highly debatable, if not totally untrue (1).


Fine for him to make his unfounded claims that suit US goals and smear Yanokovych, but when others make claims he doesn’t like to hear, backed up with evidence, they are merely looking for a reason to tarnish the US-backed protesters.


During the interview with RT, he was asked how would it be perceived if Occupy protesters were to take over government buildings or a city hall in the US, as the people he supports in Ukraine have done: would it be labelled as a peaceful protest?


Of course it wouldn’t. The US state has long been involved in the illegal monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on home soil. Its security and intelligence agencies have been used to crush genuine democracy. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’ (2).


But this is not up for debate. Best to move swiftly along, as indeed Herbst did. In order to prevent further analysis of how the US might or does treat dissent on its own soil, the former ambassador continued with his rhetoric (seemingly in the belief that if you keep on repeating something, people will eventually believe it) and went on to state during the interview:


“But let’s acknowledge something… The policies of Yanukovych were authoritarian and oppressive, and it’s natural that people will respond forcibly against oppressive and authoritarian policies. People were finally fed up with the restrictions as well as the massive corruption. … One side was brutal, slaughtering scores of people. The other was merely seizing buildings… You talk about a new election was scheduled for 2015. We all knew Yanukovic was preparing to steal that election.”

By this reasoning, it would mean that we should have pre-emptive action prior to any election based on fears about who might win and the reason for why they might win. Democracy works the other way around. You have an election and then you protest, if you feel it was discredited in some way, for example like when Bush stole the 2004 election.


And, of course, Herbst would not for one moment contemplate that the US authorities are oppressive, authoritarian and corrupt. For him, such traits are only prevalent in places like Ukraine. Don’t expect the likes of Herbst to be lining up in support of Occupy protestors at home who are demanding similar things that he is supporting in Ukraine (or at least says he is supporting). His moralistic bleatings only apply to other countries.


Although Herbst strived to portray the US as a neutral observer concerning events in Ukraine, it is clearly based on a lie (3,4). It is patently obvious that the US has a definite geo-political agenda aimed at weakening Russia (5). When asked about US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nulan appearing inKiev handing out cookies, according to Herbst she was just expressing support for peaceful protest, and it did not imply that the US was taking sides in the situation.


How would that look in the US? How would Herbst feel about Russia’s foreign minister doing that in US at Occupy Wall Street?


In response to such questions, Herbst continued to repeat and deflect by saying:


“I think you have trouble understanding there is a repressive government inUkraine. There is not a repressive government in Washington…. Your problem is that you are a newscaster in a country that is undemocratic and you therefore do not want to see democracy in a country on your doorstep”

 
When the interviewer said that she does live in a democratic country (Russia), Herbst retorted:


“You have to say you live in a democratic country. Just like in the Soviet era journalists had to say that. It was not true then and it’s not true now.”

This comment and many others made by Herbst, displayed all of the arrogance associated with the ideology of US ‘exceptionalism’ in terms of that country being qualitatively different from other states, being a beacon of freedom and democracy and having the right to act in any way as and when it deems fit (6). He also displayed the complete contempt that people like him have for the public with his falsehoods, misleading claims, warped logic and attempts to deceive. Herbst should have realised that he was not talking (down) to a Fox news audience in the US. But, given the US’s role in events in Ukraine, maybe this was the best performance that could have been expected by someone in his shoes whose sole aim is to deliberately mislead.


Herbst, Nulan and others would do well to contemplate their country’s post-1945 record of war mongering and destabilisations of democratic governments (7) and which has led to millions of deaths (8), its global surveillance network exposed by Edward Snowdon that illegally spies on individuals and governments alike and its ongoing plundering of resources and countries supported by militarism, ‘free trade’ or the outright manipulation of markets (for example: 9,10,11).


Such ‘champions of democracy’ would also do well to contemplate the debasement of democracy at home and the US’s transformation into what increasingly appears to be a police state (12).


But, of course, they are already well aware of this. And they know full well that what the US is doing in Ukraine represents more of the same: the brutality and lies of Empire attempting to hide behind the smokescreen of democracy.   


Notes





A People’s Movement to End All War

When people sign the declaration of peace at WorldBeyondWar.org they have the opportunity to type in a brief statement in their own words. Thousands have done so, including those pasted below. (And a few great quotes from the past have been added here in graphic form.)

“I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution.” — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

“As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons.” —Ann Wright

“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” — Noam Chomsky

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“It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war–everywhere. And it’s great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King’s call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into ‘life-affirming activities.’ Bravo!” —Medea Benjamin

“We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex.” — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

“The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity.” — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

“War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people’s children. As former President Eisenhower said, ‘I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.’ When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world’s people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us.” —David Hartsough

“If anything can halt climate change it’s redirecting the unfathomable pile of money and energy now wasted on a war machine that kills for fossil fuels and consumes a good share of them in the process.  The symptoms of militarism addressed by human rights and civil liberties groups would end if the disease were treated.  Our culture of violence, our government of secrecy, our provocation of animosity around the world: these would end if we stopped slaughtering people under the banner of war.  If a fraction of those damaged by war work to end war, it will quickly become a thing of the past — seen then as the unmitigated barbarism that many find it hard to recognize as long as war is accepted by those in positions of power.” — David Swanson, author of War No More: The Case for Abolition

“History has shown us that the institution of war created by humans is not only morally reprehensible, but utterly ineffective in resolving any kind of disputes. The human, social, environmental and economic costs of war are too high. We now know more about the reality of a global peace system built upon global collaboration, social change and constructive conflict transformation. It is time for a re-energized effort to build a world beyond war by challenging the war system and supporting the infrastructure of peace.” — Patrick Hiller, Peace Scientist and Director of War Prevention Initiative by the Jubitz Family Foundation

“War is a great destroyer. And human history has arrived at a pivotal moment. We can choose a path built on cooperation, where our caring and sharing side uplifts us, or we can continue to embrace a worldview where domination using violence imprisons us in cycles of killing and destruction. I’m a biologist, and war is not genetically fixed. War is a cultural invention. It’s time to end this abomination, and this World Beyond War movement is uniquely focused on unifying the human community to create one of the biggest revolutions in history. I’m in. Join us!” — Judith Hand, Founder: A Future Without War.org

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“Change will not come from a President Gandhi.  Rather, the initiate for change will come from the bottom up as citizens force politicians to act.  We just need to put our voices together and get sufficiently organized.  Ultimately change will come from the ingenuity, compassion and ability of the American people to self-correct and chart a more secure and sustainable course for the future.” — Russell Faure-Brac, author of Transition to Peace

“Our greatest enemy today is not a particular group of people in a far-off country. Our greatest enemy is war itself.” — Paul Chappell, author of The Art of Waging Peace

“We must work to end all war because the health, welfare, and safety of the children is the most important element of a society. The children can be the focus for mobilizing, conflict resolution, and uniting for the future of humanity. The children allow the people of the world to show kindness, generosity, and compassion.” — Andre Sheldon, Director of Global Strategy of Nonviolence

“We must end war because war is an abrogation of the inviolable bonds of connection between all people, all living things and the planet. To participate in it is a denial of the trust in continuity deeded to us by our forebears and expected of us by future generations. Every act of war and aggression diminishes the humanity of the individuals involved, destabilizes communities and nations; and scars the entire human family. We are committed not to ending wars but to ending war itself, and to addressing the fear, greed, misunderstanding and drive for power that lead to violent conflict and war.” — Rena Guay, Executive Director, Center for Conscience in Action

“Richard Wendell Fogg, Center for the Study of Conflict, years ago said rather than saying we need to abolish war, we should talk of REPLACING war. In the field of conflict analysis and transformation, there are creative strategies we can apply to solutions that can solve problems and make war unnecessary. With increasing lethality of weapons, evolving technology and communications, war is obsolete. It is a solution worse than any problem it presumes to  solve. We can address conflicts constructively. Beyond diplomacy, we can use mediation, negotiation and problem-solving strategies to transcend war.” —Diane Perlman

“Humanity can no longer afford war for two reasons. 1) We need all our resources to deal with the consequences of climate change and peak oil, and 2) War is too wasteful of both human and physical resources to be further utilized or tolerated by the human species. Indeed, nuclear war, which remains a major threat to the world as we know it, would likely make our planet uninhabitable for our own species and many others.” —Peter Bergel

“War is at the heart of all global problems, impeding humanity from a full realization of just, equitable and sustainable communities.” —Kent D. Shifferd

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“There is enough for everyone to have what they need without exploitation. Adequate distribution of resources, including education, without violence can lead to a sustainable system that doesn’t stress the ecosphere. Alternately, continued violence feeds population surges and hoarding the products of exploitative extraction, which endanger the survival of our species. In short, if we want a future with humans on Earth, we’ve got to stop war.” —Vernon Huffman

“Life on earth is not sustainable continuing down this path. War destroys people, the air, the ground, the water. It destroys history. It inhales money/resources literally taking food out of the mouths of the people. It takes generations to recover if that is even possible. Enough.” —Barbara Cummings

“War is the worst act of terrorism and among the greatest causes of human suffering and death and ecological degradation. Wars are declared by the rich and fought by the poor. There will be no real justice and protection of human rights and the rights of nature until a sustainable global peace has been achieved.” —Brian J. Trautman

“I know from my lengthy experience as a journalist, researcher, and human being working in various war-torn or recently war-battered countries that all wars inflict terrible, long-lasting damage on all the residents of the war-zone– with the weakest members of society always suffering the most. There is no such thing as a ‘humanitarian’ war. In cases of conflict or bitter oppression, the very best way to mend broken relationships while building a solid basis for a better situation going forward is to use all nonviolent means possible to de-escalate tensions and work for a better life going forward on the basis of the equality and equal worth of all human persons.” —Helena Cobban

“War murders our children and sickens the survivors. ‘Peace or Perish: Abolish War on Planet and Poor’ (Theme of the 2014 Veterans For Peace National Convention, Asheville, NC, July 2–27).” —John Heuer

“The main obstacle to disarmament is the general/common belief that it is impossible. And it is — just as impossible as ending slavery, apartheid, the Cold War, and tearing the Iron Curtain. Humanity suffers under poverty, unhealth, pollution, depletion of resources, climate change. Instead of being an extremely expensive and deadly risk on top of all those threats militarism is clearly the best option/chance/opportunity to do something substantial — if all countries would join in abolition of military force and forces (the idea that Nobel in his will for ‘the champions of peace’ called ‘creating the brotherhood of nations’).” —Fredrik S. Heffermehl

“Militarism is the world’s biggest problem…morally, socially, economically, and environmentally.” —Ward Reilly

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“Creating a world beyond war may be the noblest endeavor we can work on. Can you imagine what future generations will think if we succeed? We will leave them a world where trillions of dollars are not wasted annually on weapons and war, where tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are no longer slaughtered in unnecessary wars. Surely we can imagine solving conflicts between nations in a more mature way; we can imagine the human race evolving to a higher consciousness that no longer requires war. We can imagine a world without war, now we have to work toward such a world. It will be a global challenge, uniting the world to accomplish this great new reality.” —Kevin Zeese, PopularResistance.org

“War is a lie. War is a racket. War is hell. War is waste. War is a crime. War is terrorism. War is not the answer.” —Coleen Rowley

“War destroys. War obliterates. War is ruination. And war begets more war. After thousands of years of experience proving this, and reams of literature and countless works of art exposing it, when are people going to learn?” —Lisa Simeone

“War is a barbaric tool of the war profiteers and Empires who employ them. War pits young people from the working class against other similarly poor, or disadvantaged humans, for nothing but the greed of the few. Only we the people can make war obsolete by not participating in the profound crimes of the profiteers and other war mongers.” —Cindy Sheehan

“War causes pain, suffering, and gross violations to human needs and rights. War causes a violent domino effect for years to come. Humans have no business being involved in war. We are an evolved species that needs to focus on peace and justice in our world. We must honor and show respect for our planet and all living and nonliving entities. We need to shift away from violence and focus on the beauty of nonviolence. War and destructive violence are not solutions to any problem. War must be ended. When that happens we will lift the pain and suffering of our world and allow humanity to begin to heal. It is time we wake up and raise our thoughts to a higher consciousness. If we do not end war now, it will end us. Call on me. I am ready to help end all war!” —Joy Henry

“We need a movement if we are going to stop wars and this may be it. So many of us are working in small groups and we need to come together as one.” —JoAnne Lingle

“The future existence of our planet depends upon ending war. War and violence are not a solution to conflict. They contribute to more violence, more death, more poverty, more suffering physically and psychologically, more patriotism, more borders, more ignorance, and more stupidity. How tragic is all of that. The ecology of our planet is in jeopardy and the pollution of the war machine world wide is a huge contributor to climate change.” —Ann Tiffany

“As professor of global peace studies at the International Islamic University of Malaysia I am committed to the ending of war also through criminalization of war, an approach that has not been sufficiently used in spite of the UN Charter outlawing war — with too many loopholes used buy aggressive countries.” —Johan Galtung, Founder of TRANSCEND International

“I applaud the establishment of a global movement to end all war, but note that citizens of the United States have a special responsibility to make this happen. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has bombed more than 25 countries. In those 68 years, no other nation has killed and injured more people living outside of its borders. Most Americans remain silent while we spend more on war, and have more soldiers in other countries, than all other nations combined. War and soldiers are glorified in the U.S. Please recognize and honor those who have had the courage to take a public stand against one or more U.S. warswww.uspeacememorial.org/Registry.htm. We celebrate these role models in hopes of inspiring other Americans to speak out against war and for peace.” —Michael D. Knox, US Peace Memorial Foundation

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“War is about nothing but violence. War is terrible! I have a first-hand war experience and I know what war is all about! I dream of peace!” —Fidaa Abuassi

“War, and preparation for war is draining resources that are life giving from countries, statesnd cities. The world we help create is the world we leave for those who come after us. I am committed to living non-violently in response to the violence in my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country, my hemisphere and my world because non-violent love in action is the most powerful force for change that exists.” —Joyce Ellwanger

“As Ernest Hemingway wrote, ‘Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead…’” —Christopher Flynn

“The biosphere can no longer tolerate the toxic affects of modern warfare, which threaten the continued existence of all humanity and many animals and plants on which we are dependent.” —Richard Ochs

“War benefits no one, with the exception of military contractors and their shareholders. It makes our communities poor, our nation less safe, and ourselves less fully human. We must commit to diplomacy, peacemaking and development!” —Diane Farsetta

“This atavistic practice has always been horrible, but technology makes it even more destructive and savage. it is time for humanity to become civilized.” —Sally-Alice Thompson

“We need to solve some of the world’s problems like climate change, world hunger, homelessness, income disparity, the influence of money ine lections, destruction of the environment, etc. and stop wasting our resources on killing people and destroying the environment.” —Jean Gordon

“The U.S. has become the most egregious war-monger and terrorist nation in the world, as well as the long-time leading purveyor of weapons of war throughout the world, and because here at home, we have 50 million of our citizens living in poverty, one in four children surviving on Food Stamps, a collapsing education system, poor health care, and many other disasters, none of which can be addressed as long as the country keeps pouring trillions of dollars into war and militarism. This madness and criminality must end!” —Dave Lindorff

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“It’s obvious: war is a waste of human and earth resources that results only in suffering. There are other ways to disagree.” —Karen Malpede

“As John F. Kennedy said, it will end us instead. ‘If mankind does not put an end to war, then war will put an end to mankind.’ Modern war is ecocide, genocide and ethnocide and is not sustainable. The costs of war are enormous, not just financial but social, ecological and global. War must become obsolete if the world is to survive.” —John Judge

“We’re destroying life on earth in all its forms. By supporting war we are creating poverty that includes fear and anxiety about the future which leads to depression, poor health, food insecurity, and homelessnes. People all over the world are experiencing the destructive effects of investing most of our country’s resources in war resulting in the failure to create a healthy, well-educated and secure environment for humanity around the world.” —Nancy Schoerke

“We must shift from ‘war is a necessary evil’ to ‘peace is a necessary good.’” —Swami Beyondananda, Steve Bhaerman

“The myth that war creates justice, solves problems, improves security and enables peace is absurd. If we weren’t so bombarded with propaganda to the contrary, everyone would know that. We need to insist on a new story, the true story. We must forbid the few to profit from war so that we may all begin to profit from peace.” —Robert Shetterly

“We have seen enough of war to know that it doesn’t work to resolve conflicts. It only exacerbates them. It is time we find other solutions and dedicate ourselves to life–not death.” —Peter Kuznick

“To the extent that today’s world is civilized at all, it’s largely thanks to yesterday’s opponents of war and misery: the soldiers who refused to fight, the civilians who refused to accept war and occupation, and all those who worked for a global order based on peace and equity. Yet the institutions and forces that produce war have not been eradicated. Today we must build an international movement that will not only prevent future wars but transform the very structures on which war, militarism, and imperial domination are based. This struggle will not be won quickly, but in the process even small acts and partial victories can help save numerous lives.” —Kevin Young

“It is clear to me that war creates violence and does not solve problems. I have lived and worked in Iran. Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and have seen first hard the broken bodies of children and the anger at our impact as a nation on people’s lives. Thank you for putting this opportunity together. Peace” —Ann Huntwork

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“I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘just war’. Murder is murder, whether sanctioned by a government or not. All people should have the right to life and liberty, so long as they do no harm to others, and war extinguishes both.” —Ethan Bell

“War promotes rascism all around the globe.” —Muhammad Ali Khan

“The greatest threat to humanity today is climate change. Militarism exacerbates that threat, and is in no way useful for addressing that threat. The resources invested in militarism must be redirected to combat climate change and global warming.” —Larry A. Unruh

“As a very young man I signed a declaration – ‘I renounce war and will never support another’. That was in 1939 and I have maintained this stand throughout the whole period, including WW2, as a Conscientious Objector.Worked to achieve Peace since. It is necessary for individuals to take this stand and maintain it. War never solves anything – it accentuates any problem, whatever it is, and makes matters worse. There is no moral or humanitarian justification for it.” —Donald Saunders

“Having survived WWII as a child I am TOTALLY against ALL wars, there is not excuse for killing and injuring humans, all innocent, for life. I am still traumatized from the war and the bombing and starvation.” —Ingrid Kepler-May

“We still carry ancient beliefs from thousands and thousands of years ago when war was the only thing known. We have options now. This organization will help shift the collective consciousness toward greater humanity and peace. War has indoctrinated the U.S. government as well as other countries. There is no integral intention that exists behind war. It is a contradiction and therefor useless. Its time to evolve greatly. ‘Love precious humanity’” —Leslie Naugle

“I want a world without war. War never works it just kills. I want my children to never have to have a close contact with war. I want my children and future generations to grow up free and in a peaceful world. War is not freedom it is a malignant force imposed by men in power. We must change the views of people in power now and let them know that in a diplomatic and peaceful way issues can be solved.” —Ana Martins

“I am working with the higher education system in Afghanistan. My work in this world is teaching and serving as a role model for peace, particularly in this environment that has been devastated by the ravages of 30+ years of horrific conflict. I have a number of close Afghan friends and they, probably more than any people I have ever met, want peace for themselves, their families and their country. I am privileged to know them and am inspired by their endurance and resilience. Endless war serves only to enrich those who champion it and it is long past time that it be stopped.” —James Stapp

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“We know, deep down inside, it’s wrong! There’s nothing you can say to ever make it right! Killing is killing, no matter how you slice it! And the ones doing all the killing should be locked up, and be forced to watch the world transform from, This evil place they’ve created, To the wonderful place we should be creating!” —Ronald Richter

“Why must we work to end all war? War keeps us from progressing as a race. We can’t reach a point of sustainability with war taking up so much of our time. It attributes to the division of wealth providing greater conflict between classes and it hands over authority to the wealthy class. It makes them richer while the working class is left to die. War need to end because it’s a tool used to control the masses with fear. It distracts us from the problems within the social hierarchical systems that have been established. We must end all war because we’ll never have peace without it. War is expensive and destroys makes the economy unstable. War is a tool of capital gain, it’s marketable and from youth we are encouraged to take and defend our ruling authority without question. There are other ways to solve conflicts. Civilians are the ones who suffer the most damage. War and violence is terrible for you Psyche due to the traumatizing events. And Finally the main reason we should end all war is because it will kill us if we don’t.” —Jessica Gartner

“While I was always aware that there was a sickness that pervades every social institution I just could not make the connection to myself and this ‘sickness’ until my beautiful child was murdered in the ‘theater’ of ‘War’. This experience was eviscerating. I was disgorged of this ‘sickness’. I could see that ‘war’ is just goddamn MEAN. It bears no resemblance to what lives in my heart and mind so why was I able to accept it as a way of life? Why was I able to accept my son being part of a force for death…for entropy? I see it all clearly now, though. There is a deep sickness that pervades all social institutions and these sicknesses have made us mentally ‘disturbed’ – working out of balance with the gift of life. My granddaughter, Eva, is now four and has no father. She has no protector in this mean world where men prey upon life with a sense of entitlement that desires are to be quenched at all costs. Who will protect my granddaughter now? Through the physical death of my beloved son I have learned that misogyny is the root of warring behavior – and this thought process, this behavior is just goddamn mean.” —Jamie Santos

“Every person who dies is someone’s son, dad, mom, brother or sister.” —Gaston Locklear

“Nelson Mandela said: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’  Peace is possible.” —John Bonifaz

“Every modern war has had its root in exploitation. The Civil War was fought to decide whether the slaveholders of the South or the capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The Spanish-American War decided that the United States should exploit Cuba.” —Larry Egly, Veterans For Peace Chapter 961 Codirector

“Another war will likely lead to the end of the human race.” —Lewis Patrie, WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility

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“LAW opposes the illegal use of force supports the use of national and international law to settle disputes, prosecute offenders and protect rights.” —Gail Davidson, Lawyers against the War

“As a 70 year old woman, I have seen just what the destruction of war has done to my home country and also those we have invaded in the name of democracy! None of this has been done with my consent, so for the rest of my life I want to promote peace.” —Katherine Schock

“War takes people’s lives and destroys property, but it does not resolve the world’s problems. If anything is achieved through war, it is to plant the seeds for the next violent conflict as the vanquished and their children will usually not accept the outcome.” —Bruce Van Voorhis

“War is an irrational, counter-productive way to handle conflicts.” —Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History emeritus, SUNY/Albany

“Because we are being used as pawns in an endless game of bloodletting. One generation has to stop this. Please let it be ours.” —Lynne Thomas

“War traumatizes soldier and civilian alike; warfare is a profit-making racket; warfare resolves nothing that negotiations can’t resolve better; the weapons we have now make non-violence the only option to planetary annihilation.” —Madeline Taylor, Topanga Peace Alliance

“Those who exploit our susceptibility to the us-them fallacy to enlarge themselves are today no worse than those who have done the same down through the ages. But the world is different.” —Roger Arnold

“I know war. I was in one in 1991 in Bosnia. It is something that has to stop now. Noone should experience something like that ever again.” —Hatidza Isic

“War is the worst thing that human beings can do to each other, and the worst form of exploitation by the rich and the powerful.” —Nicolas J Sandy Davies

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“As a geologist I have travelled the world and lived and worked amongst wonderful but disadvantaged peoples. I am emotionally moved to welcome this campaign.” —Kenneth Buckland

“It is time for the thinking man to realise that what we do to other living things and our environment we do to ourselves. As previous civilisations have learnt, the only way is to create harmony in our world and move beyond hypocrisy.” —Nozar Mossadeghi

“War must become obsolete in the 21st Century. Modern War is genocide, ecocide and ethnocide. Wars profit the few and destroy the many. ‘The hour is getting late,’ sang Bob Dylan. War is destroying the future of humanity.” —John Judge

“We owe it to our children and their children. The end of war is an end to poverty. War is a crime against humanity.” —Jean Andrew

“It’s time, at this 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I, for us all to join together to fight only war itself.” —Marie Reinsdorf

“War ain’t good for shit!” —Bryant White

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Obamacare Harms America’s Workforce

Obamacare Harms America's Workforce

by Stephen Lendman

Obamacare scams consumers. It's a ripoff. It's a corporate designed scheme. It's smoke and mirrors deception. It's rife with disturbing inequities. It makes a dysfunctional system worse.

It enriches insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. It's fast food healthcare. It rations it. 

It leaves millions uninsured. Millions more are way underinsured. It's outrageously expensive. It's double the cost of other developed countries. It makes healthcare more than ever unaffordable. 

Millions of households have to pay 40% or more out-of-pocket. It's for co-pays and deductibles. It's on top of costly premiums. It gets worse.

New York Times editors are some of Obamacare's biggest boosters. They noticed a glaring problem. On February 4, The Times headlined "Health Care Law Projected to Cut the Labor Force."

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis says so. By 2021, Obamacare will shrink the labor force by about 2.3 million workers. 

An earlier estimate predicted 800,000 shrinkage. By 2024, CBO projects 2.5 million. Maybe a future update will hike numbers higher. The more closely Obamacare is examined, the worse it looks.

Ordinary Americans are getting squeezed. Obamacare makes things worse. Doing so harms public health.

The New York Times downplayed the impact. It did so saying the new law "nudges workers to work less."

"(I)nsurance expansion reduces the need for a person to take a full-time job just to get coverage. Premium subsidies effectively bolster household income."

Most workers want higher-paying full-time jobs. They want affordable healthcare coverage. They want what Obamacare denies. 

The Times didn't explain. It touts a plan demanding condemnation. It's one of the greatest ever corporate scams. 

Martin Luther King called healthcare injustice "the most shocking and inhumane" kind. Inequality is institutionalized. Treatment when most needed is inadequate. For too many it's denied.

Proper healthcare more than ever depends on what people can afford. It means low-wage workers get less. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable.

CBO claims its report isn't about jobs. It states:

"The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment (that is, more workers seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week).

Official unemployment numbers are fake. It's not 6.7%. It's 23.3%. It includes millions of workers wanting jobs who can't find them.

Imagine Obamacare making things worse. Imagine low-wage earners reducing their hours to keep Obamacare subsidies. Imagine "creating an implicit tax on (subsidy) earnings," said CBO.

Imagine them delaying or foregoing employment altogether. CBO can't predict numbers leaving the work force. 

It doesn't know how many will shift to part-time work. It makes predicting how things will turn out ahead hard to do.

A shrinking workforce indicates economic decline. So does replacing high-pay/good-benefit full-time jobs with low-pay/poor-or-no-benefit part-time or temp ones.

America's workforce no longer resembles a developed country, says Paul Craig Roberts. It's a shell of its former self. 

A shrinking workforce when population is rising accelerates its race to the bottom. Imagine designing a healthcare system this way.

Imagine one harming overall health. Imagine it reducing aggregate labor compensation. Imagine the impact of penalties. 

They affect workers refusing to buy healthcare coverage. They impact employers not providing it to full-time workers. 

Imagine dozens of new tax provisions letting IRS agents enforce Obamacare implementation. Imagine giving them this much power. Imagine making things more nightmarish.

Imagine a politicized healthcare system. Imagine one harming health more than protecting it. Imagine bad medicine multiple ways. Imagine Republicans taking full advantage.

"The president's healthcare law creates uncertainty for small businesses, hurts take-home pay, and makes it harder to invest in new workers," said House Speaker John Boehner. 

"The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) said Americans "rightfully...shouldn't have job lock."

"We live in a country where we should be free agents. People can do what they want."

It they want to eat, pay rent and cover other vital expenses, they need jobs. They need decent incomes. They need government working for, not against them.

Senator Joe Manchin III (D. W VA) called the combination of low enrollments and workforce declines Obamacare's "Waterloo."

Whether true or not remains to be seen. CBO also estimated about a million fewer Americans than expected getting healthcare coverage this year.

Rollout problems bear much responsibility. So do fewer Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan enrollments. 

CBO estimates six million Americans enrolling through exchanges this year. Earlier it estimated seven million.

Expanded Medicaid and other public programs will enroll about eight million Americans. It's down from nine million estimated earlier.

"Over time," said CBO, "more people are expected to respond to the new coverage options, so enrollment is projected to increase sharply in 2015 and 2016."

By 2017, it estimates 25 million enrollees. A White House statement said "individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods."

They'll "have the opportunity to pursue their dreams." Perhaps Obama endorses the American dream of not working. 

Ordinary Americans can't survive without it. Obamacare promises were broken. Remember ones Obama made.

"If you like your health care plan," you can keep it, "period."

Millions of Americans lost theirs.

"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period."

Doing so requires millions of Americans paying extra.

"(W)e'll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year."

They're significantly higher for most households.

Up to "90% of Americans (with) health insurance (get) stronger, better and more secure (coverage than) before...They don't have to worry about anything else."

Onerous mandates are imposed on individuals with employer-provided coverage.

"(N)o family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase."

Obamacare mandates 18 tax hikes, fees and penalties. Middle class households are heavily impacted.

Obama said he wouldn't sign any plan "add(ing) one dime to our deficits - either now or in the future."

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates annual Obamacare costs will "increase the primary deficit by 0.7 percent of gross domestic spending." 

Elements "reduc(ing) costs for families, businesses, and government (are) in this bill."

Higher insurance premiums and other increased costs assure higher spending, not less.

"I will protect Medicare," Obama promised.

Obamacare cuts Medicare spending. Mandates decrease it by over $700 billion from 2013 - 2022. Future reductions are planned.

Over the next decade or earlier, Medicare will be transformed radically. Obama wants it privatized en route to eliminating it altogether.

He wants the same for Social Security. Medicaid years ahead may be substantially downsized.

Obama promised a public option. He said he'd "sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of (his) first term as president that will cover every American."

Obamacare leaves millions uninsured. It leaves millions more woefully underinsured. It makes a dysfunctional system much worse. It enriches providers at the expense of proper healthcare.

"(T)his law means more choice, more competition, and lower costs for millions of Americans."

Obamacare is polar opposite. A fundamental human right is compromised. Human life and welfare are bartered for profit.

Marketplace competition decreased. In half of US counties, consumers have either one or two insurer choices. 

Costs are much higher for most people. Americans deserve much more than they're getting. 

Universal single payer advocates hope their day will come. Medicare for all is the obvious solution.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Abbas Accepts Occupation Harshness

Obamacare Harms America's Workforce

by Stephen Lendman

Obamacare scams consumers. It's a ripoff. It's a corporate designed scheme. It's smoke and mirrors deception. It's rife with disturbing inequities. It makes a dysfunctional system worse.

It enriches insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. It's fast food healthcare. It rations it. 

It leaves millions uninsured. Millions more are way underinsured. It's outrageously expensive. It's double the cost of other developed countries. It makes healthcare more than ever unaffordable. 

Millions of households have to pay 40% or more out-of-pocket. It's for co-pays and deductibles. It's on top of costly premiums. 
It gets worse.

New York Times editors are some of Obamacare's biggest boosters. They noticed a glaring problem. On February 4, The Times headlined "Health Care Law Projected to Cut the Labor Force."

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis says so. By 2021, Obamacare will shrink the labor force by about 2.3 million workers. 

An earlier estimate predicted 800,000 shrinkage. By 2024, CBO projects 2.5 million. Maybe a future update will hike numbers higher. The more closely Obamacare is examined, the worse it looks.

Ordinary Americans are getting squeezed. Obamacare makes things worse. Doing so harms public health.

The New York Times downplayed the impact. It did so saying the new law "nudges workers to work less."

"(I)nsurance expansion reduces the need for a person to take a full-time job just to get coverage. Premium subsidies effectively bolster household income."

Most workers want higher-paying full-time jobs. They want affordable healthcare coverage. They want what Obamacare denies. 

The Times didn't explain. It touts a plan demanding condemnation. It's one of the greatest ever corporate scams. 

Martin Luther King called healthcare injustice "the most shocking and inhumane" kind. Inequality is institutionalized. Treatment when most needed is inadequate. For too many it's denied.

Proper healthcare more than ever depends on what people can afford. It means low-wage workers get less. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable.

CBO claims its report isn't about jobs. It states:

"The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment (that is, more workers seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week).

Official unemployment numbers are fake. It's not 6.7%. It's 23.3%. It includes millions of workers wanting jobs who can't find them.

Imagine Obamacare making things worse. Imagine low-wage earners reducing their hours to keep Obamacare subsidies. Imagine "creating an implicit tax on (subsidy) earnings," said CBO.

Imagine them delaying or foregoing employment altogether. CBO can't predict numbers leaving the work force. 

It doesn't know how many will shift to part-time work. It makes predicting how things will turn out ahead hard to do.

A shrinking workforce indicates economic decline. So does replacing high-pay/good-benefit full-time jobs with low-pay/poor-or-no-benefit part-time or temp ones.

America's workforce no longer resembles a developed country, says Paul Craig Roberts. It's a shell of its former self. 

A shrinking workforce when population is rising accelerates its race to the bottom. Imagine designing a healthcare system this way.

Imagine one harming overall health. Imagine it reducing aggregate labor compensation. Imagine the impact of penalties. 

They affect workers refusing to buy healthcare coverage. They impact employers not providing it to full-time workers. 

Imagine dozens of new tax provisions letting IRS agents enforce Obamacare implementation. Imagine giving them this much power. Imagine making things more nightmarish.

Imagine a politicized healthcare system. Imagine one harming health more than protecting it. Imagine bad medicine multiple ways. Imagine Republicans taking full advantage.

"The president's healthcare law creates uncertainty for small businesses, hurts take-home pay, and makes it harder to invest in new workers," said House Speaker John Boehner. 

"The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) said Americans "rightfully...shouldn't have job lock."

"We live in a country where we should be free agents. People can do what they want."

It they want to eat, pay rent and cover other vital expenses, they need jobs. They need decent incomes. They need government working for, not against them.

Senator Joe Manchin III (D. W VA) called the combination of low enrollments and workforce declines Obamacare's "Waterloo."

Whether true or not remains to be seen. CBO also estimated about a million fewer Americans than expected getting healthcare coverage this year.

Rollout problems bear much responsibility. So do fewer Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan enrollments. 

CBO estimates six million Americans enrolling through exchanges this year. Earlier it estimated seven million.

Expanded Medicaid and other public programs will enroll about eight million Americans. It's down from nine million estimated earlier.

"Over time," said CBO, "more people are expected to respond to the new coverage options, so enrollment is projected to increase sharply in 2015 and 2016."

By 2017, it estimates 25 million enrollees. A White House statement said "individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods."

They'll "have the opportunity to pursue their dreams." Perhaps Obama endorses the American dream of not working. 

Ordinary Americans can't survive without it. Obamacare promises were broken. Remember ones Obama made.

"If you like your health care plan," you can keep it, "period."

Millions of Americans lost theirs.

"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period."

Doing so requires millions of Americans paying extra.

"(W)e'll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year."

They're significantly higher for most households.

Up to "90% of Americans (with) health insurance (get) stronger, better and more secure (coverage than) before...They don't have to worry about anything else."

Onerous mandates are imposed on individuals with employer-provided coverage.

"(N)o family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase."

Obamacare mandates 18 tax hikes, fees and penalties. Middle class households are heavily impacted.

Obama said he wouldn't sign any plan "add(ing) one dime to our deficits - either now or in the future."

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates annual Obamacare costs will "increase the primary deficit by 0.7 percent of gross domestic spending." 

Elements "reduc(ing) costs for families, businesses, and government (are) in this bill."

Higher insurance premiums and other increased costs assure higher spending, not less.

"I will protect Medicare," Obama promised.

Obamacare cuts Medicare spending. Mandates decrease it by over $700 billion from 2013 - 2022. Future reductions are planned.

Over the next decade or earlier, Medicare will be transformed radically. Obama wants it privatized en route to eliminating it altogether.

He wants the same for Social Security. Medicaid years ahead may be substantially downsized.

Obama promised a public option. He said he'd "sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of (his) first term as president that will cover every American."

Obamacare leaves millions uninsured. It leaves millions more woefully underinsured. It makes a dysfunctional system much worse. It enriches providers at the expense of proper healthcare.

"(T)his law means more choice, more competition, and lower costs for millions of Americans."

Obamacare is polar opposite. A fundamental human right is compromised. Human life and welfare are bartered for profit.

Marketplace competition decreased. In half of US counties, consumers have either one or two insurer choices. 

Costs are much higher for most people. Americans deserve much more than they're getting. 

Universal single payer advocates hope their day will come. Medicare for all is the obvious solution.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Economic Terror And Rolling Out India’s Surveillance State

Global Research 5/2/2014, Countercurrents 6/2/2014 and Deccan Herald 6/2/2014

When two planes flew into the World Trade Organisation buildings inNew York in 2001, the impact was twofold. First, there was shock and outrage. Second, there was a collective sentiment, at least in the US, that something must be done to prevent such a thing happening again and some form of retributive justice meted out.


Governments the world over wasted no time in conveniently forcing through legislation that eroded personal and collective freedoms, under the guise of preventing terror, at a time of increasing social and economic inequalities due to a strident and exploitative economic neo-liberal agenda.


If 9/11 served at least one purpose, apart from fuelling Western military imperialism according to the tenets of the neo-con Project for a New American Century, it was to provide any or every government on the planet with a reason for clamping down on its own population, stripping away civil liberties and making people acquiesce to the needs of global capital. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US and British surveillance agencies and programmes have exposed just how far governments are prepared to go in order to snoop on virtually every activity that ordinary members of the public engage in. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic try to justify this illegal snooping on the basis of it being carried out for people's own good on the back of self-proclaimed ‘security alerts’.


But history shows that widespread surveillance by governments on their own populations has mostly been about attempting to monitor and quell dissent and genuine opposition to its policies (1). The US and British states have long been involved in illegal, duplicitous monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on their own soils. Western intelligence agencies have been used to crush democracy at home in order to serve the interests of elite state-corporate players. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question and challenge the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’. The conclusion is that mass surveillance occurs because legitimate political dissent that poses a direct challenge to the one percent will not be tolerated.


Should people in India be worried about the rolling out of the Indian’s government own plans for mass monitoring, the Centralised Monitoring System? They should, given the genuine concerns being raised about the lack of Parliamentary oversight and transparency surrounding the system, as well as the scope and depth and the violation of privacy safeguards, which could be as far reaching, secretive and unconstitutional/illegal as the West’s PRISM system (2,3,4).


And they should be concerned because the agenda is the same. Social and economic trends in India have been mirroring those in the West since neo-liberal economic policies were embraced by leading politicians here. The gap between rich and poor has widened, wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of families and billionaires, often courtesy of politicians who ‘facilitate’ the handing out of contracts and chunks of public money.  


The growing chasm in both India and the West between rich and poor has not been lost on policy makers who fear a backlash from ordinary folk. Such concerns were recently voiced at the World Economic Forum. It’s for good reason then that ‘homeland security’ has been beefed up in the US and drones are to be used to spy on its own citizens. It’s for good reason that the NSA and its British equivalent are paranoid about their populations’ political views, allegiances and activities. Mass surveillance of ordinary people is not about preventing terror; it’s about stopping ordinary folk seeking to stop a further shift in the balance of power towards elite interests.  



And it’s also for good reason that the Indian government is investing massively in military equipment and surveillance at a time when the rich are looting the economy and protests and uprisings are occurring across the nation in order to protect their lands, forests and communities from this assault.


India’s top ten billionaires account for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP, while 7,850 High Net Worth individuals account for US$935 billion, half of India’s GDP. As in the West, India’s military-corporate-state complex is working hand in glove to shove economic neo-liberalism and its impact down the throats of the people. This is the type of extremism and economic terror that is seldom discussed.     


In 2013, the Indian defence budget formed over ten percent of total government expenditure. It has been for many years the world’s largest market for imported arms. In 2000, India spent an estimated US$ 911 million on arms imports; by 2013, this had risen to US$4.6 billion. As both violent and peaceful opposition to government policies is on the rise among many of the nation's poorest people, who become conveniently tarnished by many mainstream commentators as 'the enemy within', India now has the world’s largest paramilitary force in place to 'deal' with them.(5).


Apart from ongoing violent conflicts in the ‘tribal belt’ and elsewhere, there is the continuing all pervasive structural violence of crony capitalism, corruption, ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism, which has, among other atrocities, resulted in up to 300,000 farmer suicides and India having over one-third of the poorest people in the world and the world’s largest number of children suffering from malnutrition (6).


There are people who want to do us harm. We need to be protected. There are extremists and wrong doers who want to bend the system for their own narrow agendas against the interests of the many. There always has been. Unfortunately, they have hijacked the machinery of state(s) and are increasingly to be found in positions of authority implementing surveillance and economic terrorism ‘for our own good’.


Notes





Government of the Rich, by the Rich and for the Rich: It’s Time for...

“[E]verywhere, “time is winding up,” in the words of one of our spirituals, “corruption in the land, people take a stand, time is winding up.”—Martin Luther King Jr. We now live in a two-tiered system of governance. There are two sets of laws: one set for the government and its corporate allies, and another set […]

Building a Global Movement to End All War

I've been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I've seen.  When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you've announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning -- and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it's time to start thinking about what you're going to help build as a movement.

In this case I'm talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org -- and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There's a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we'll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also -- as part of these actions -- the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how "the next war" will be fought.

So, we've set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We've also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth's natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria -- which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we've seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies. 

But we've only just begun to work out our plans, and we'd like everyone's input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

"I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution." — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

"As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons." —Ann Wright

"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." — Noam Chomsky

"It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war--everywhere. And it's great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King's call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into 'life-affirming activities.' Bravo!" —Medea Benjamin

"We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex." — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

"The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity." — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

"War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people's children. As former President Eisenhower said, 'I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.' When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world's people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us." —David Hartsough

http://WorldBeyondWar.org

read more

Lynne Stewart Coming Home

Lynne Stewart Coming Home

by Stephen Lendman

For Lynne, husband Ralph, their children, other family members, and legions of worldwide supporters, New Year's day 2014 is special.

It's reason to celebrate. On December 31, Lynne wrote from Carswell federal prison as follows:

"My Dears:

Well, the impossible takes a little longer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We learned this morning that the US Attorney’s office has made the motion for my compassionate release and that the Order was on Judge Koeltl’s desk.  

Since on the last go-round, he stated in Court that he would treat it 'favorably.' We are now just waiting expectantly.

The wonderful thing is that Ralph is here in Ft Worth for a visit and will bring me back to NYC with him.  

We don’t know when but the rules state that the warden has 2 days to let me go after he receives the order so it could be as early as Friday or a few days more. 

Whatever it is, I can’t stop crying tears of Joy!!  

I can’t stop thinking of all the marvelous people worldwide who made this happen. You know because each of you played an integral role. 

My daughter Z is already lining up Sloan Kettering, and we will have to see if there is a probation qualification attached to the Order and how it will affect me.  

After that, Ralph will start making arrangements to rent Yankee Stadium for the Welcome Home...Smile.

So If this reaches you before midnight tonight, raise a glass of bubbly to the joy of all of us that the old girl is OUT!!

Love Struggle,

Lynne"

On December 31, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York filed a motion before federal Judge John Koeltl. 

He requested Lynne be re-sentenced to time served. Doing so means she's eligible for immediate release. Judge Koeltl complied, saying:

Lynne’s "terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested (sentencing) reduction." 

"It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented, and travel arrangements can be made."

She'll be home within a few days at most. Her husband Ralph is in Fort Worth, TX near Carswell federal prison. 

They'll return to New York together. They'll do it joyously. They'll do it despite Lynne's wrongful imprisonment. They'll do it despite her grave medical condition.

She's dying. She has Stage Four cancer. Previous articles explained. Others addressed Judge Koeltl.

He originally sentenced Lynne to 28 months in prison. It shouldn't have been 28 seconds. Lynne never should have been prosecuted in the first place. In passing sentence Judge Koeltl said:

"She has represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular, (and she had) enormous skill and dedication (earning little money for doing it)." 

"It is no exaggeration to say that Ms. Stewart performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation."

He cited hundreds of supportive letters. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark sent one. So did law professors, former prosecutors, retired judges, and former clients.

On April 9, 2002, Lynne was wrongfully and maliciously indicted. At issue was decades of representing clients prosecutors wanted convicted. Bogus charges included:

  • "conspiring to defraud the United States; 

  • conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity; 

  • providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and 

  • two counts of making false statements." 

On February 10, 2005, she was convicted on all counts. Jurors were intimidated to do so. Trial proceedings mocked fairness. Kangaroo court justice followed.

On October 17, 2006, Lynne was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment.

On November 17, 2009, a US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit three-judge panel upheld Lynne's conviction.

They wrongfully accused her of "knowingly and willfully making false statements." They redirected her case to Judge Koeltl. They pressured him to re-sentence. 

They lied demanding enhancements for terrorism, perjury, and abuse of Lynne's position as a lawyer.

On November 19, 2009, Lynne was jailed in New York awaiting re-sentencing.

On July 15, 2010, Judge Koeltl imposed 10 years. A packed courtroom of Lynne's supporters heard him. 

A collective gasp, a few shrieks and sobs followed his re-sentencing. Husband Ralph called it "a death sentence."

Lynne addressed the court as follows:

"I'm somewhat stunned, Judge, by the swift change in my outlook. We will continue to struggle on to take all available options to do what we need to do to change this." 

"I feel like I let a lot of my good people down. Over the last eight months, prison has diminished me. Daily I confront the prospect of death." 

Judge Koeltl ignored the American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Its preamble calls for:

  • "An independent, fair and impartial judiciary." It called it "indispensable to our system of justice;" 

  • "Judges...at all times (ensuring) the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence;"

  • "establish(ing) standards (of) ethical conduct (including) overarching principles of judicial ethics" (and fairness), consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances."

Lynne's lynching showed America's true face. Police state justice rules. It has final say. Fundamental rights don't matter. Guilt by accusation suffices.

Koeltl wasn't finished punishing Lynne. She petitioned for compassionate release. She qualifies in all respects. America's 1984 Sentencing Act grants them "for extraordinary and compelling reasons."

None rise to the level of life threatening illness. Ramsey Clark said Lynne "meets every legal, rational and humane criterion."

Her attorneys argued accordingly. On August 9, 2013, Judge Koeltl denied her. He did so disgracefully.

In sentencing Lynne in 2006, he said he didn't want to impose a death sentence. He didn't want Lynne to die in prison. 

He called her character "extraordinary." She's "a credit to her profession," he said.

Longterm imprisonment would be unjust, he added. It would be "unreasonable." He cited "the somewhat atypical nature of her case." He noted no "evidence that (anyone) was harmed."

It didn't matter. In July 2010, he re-sentenced Lynne to 10 years. On August 9, 2013, he denied her compassionate release request.

At the time, her attorney Jill Shellow said his ruling "is hardly the end of this fight."

Lynne re-petitioned for compassionate release. She wants the right to die at home. She calls prison "a strange and loveless place."

"I want to be where all is familiar - in a word, home," she said. Months passed without resolution. 

She never lost hope. On New Year's eve it came. Jill Shellow informed Lynne. She'll return to New York. 

She'll get expert medical care prison authorities denied her. It may be too late to save her. Her cancer metastasized. 

It spread to her lungs, lymph nodes, bones, shoulder and left arm pit. Other parts of her body are vulnerable. 

She may have only months to live. Whether expert medical care makes a difference remains to be seen.

On New Year's day 2014, Lynne's impending release awaits. She'll be home within days. She'll be reunited with loved ones.

Supporters will greet her. Yankee Stadium isn't big enough to hold them. After over four years of wrongful imprisonment, Lynne will be free at last.

Borrowing from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech perhaps says it best," saying:

"Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty (Lynne's) free at last."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/lynne-stewart-coming-home/

The Sandy Hook School Massacre: A Compendium of Research and Analysis

Beginning in the late 1960s Operation Gladio and its corollary maneuvers proceeded throughout Europe, spanning over two decades. Researchers and even the testimony of public officials have since proven that the series of seemingly random orchestrated bombings and shootings was intended to cultivate the necessary degree of anxiety and “tension” that would keep the populace tethered to police state authority and supportive of the right wing regimes preferred by Western powers.

The events of September 11, 2001 have their attendant punctuation marks that reverberate through the body politic. The Sikh Temple. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Navy Yard. And most recently the Arapahoe School in Colorado. For over one year the American public has been subject to a steady mass-mediated drumbeat of school shootings and “active shooter drills.” The breathless corporate coverage of such events often blurs the line between contrivance and reality. While federal agencies clamor for resources to keep the public “safe” from “terrorists and other bad guys,” the undue hysteria has served to keep families on edge over the welfare of their school age children.

Over the past twelve months Memory Hole Blog has published a variety of stories and commentaries seeking to probe behind the corporate media’s overly sensationalistic, and in many cases terrifying, headlines and soundbites related to “school safety” in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

In early January 2013 such analyses caught the attention of the national media, especially since some of the unanswered questions concerning Sandy Hook were being raised or echoed by an academician–indeed, by a member of the establishment who might be intimidated (or embarrassed) into silence. Such efforts have resulted in Memory Hole building its list of followers by several thousand, and making it a destination where those so inclined often engage in vigorous debate via their commentaries on posts. This is another (albeit modest) example of intelligent and discerning citizens exhibiting warranted skepticism toward public events and condemning the disinformation and make believe corporate media offer as a regular diet to their reader/viewerships.

The following is a collection of posts written by James Tracy and MHB guest contributors over the past year specifically addressing one of US history’s more recent controversial events–one that has broad implications for public safety, health, and education-related policies: the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre.-JFT

False Flag Terror and Conspiracies of Silence
August 10, 2012
The news media’s readiness to accept official pronouncements and failure to more vigorously analyze and question government authorities in the wake of “domestic terrorist” incidents including mass shootings and bombings contributes to the American public’s already acute case of collective historical amnesia, while further rationalizing the twenty-first century police state and continued demise of civil society.

Analyzing the Newtown Narrative: Sandy Hook’s Disappearing Shooter Suspects
December 20, 2012
It is now beyond question that the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. all involved patsies, additional gunman and perhaps most importantly, mass media complicity to achieve their political ends. Along these lines and in a fashion now characteristic of how such public executions are framed, the observations and analyses of citizen journalists and alternative media suggest how coverage of the Newtown Connecticut school shooting was substantially altered in the several hours and days following the event.

The Sandy Hook Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information
December 24, 2012
Inconsistencies and anomalies abound when one turns an analytical eye to news of the Newtown school massacre. The public’s general acceptance of the event’s validity and faith in its resolution suggest a deepened credulousness borne from a world where almost all news and information is electronically mediated and controlled.

James Tracy on the Kevin Barrett Show
January 2, 2013
James Tracy’s  recent article The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information has gone viral, suggesting that more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that the “deep state” or “dual state” is behind almost all “terrorist attacks,” school shootings, and massacres of civilians. If you doubt that, please study the history of Operation Gladio, which appears to be alive and well in the USA.

Sandy Hook School Massacre Part II: Continued Ambiguity and Augmented Realities
January 4, 2013
As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends. A considerable amount of evidence has been withheld by authorities, who in a telling move have successfully postponed public disclosure of items culled from Nancy and Adam Lanzas’ residence and vehicles for an additional ninety days.

Sandy Hook School Massacre Timeline
January 6, 2013
The following timeline of the December 14 mass killing of 20 children and 8 adults in Newtown Connecticut attempts to demonstrate how the event was presented to the public by corporate news media. The chronological assemblage of coverage is not comprehensive of all reports published on the incident but rather seeks to verify how the storyline was to a substantial degree constructed by federal and state law enforcement authorities and major media around the theory that 20-year-old Adam Lanza was the sole agent in the massacre.

James Tracy on KPFA’s Guns and Butter
January 10, 2013
“Sandy Hook: Unanswered Questions” with Professor James F. Tracy. Discrepancies in media coverage; coroner’s press conference; political fallout.

Anderson Cooper’s Anti-Conspiracy Tirade
January 12, 2013
CNN anchor spends two segments of “AC360″ giving James Tracy’s photograph a nasty finger-wagging. Cooper also “interviews” establishment anti-conspiracists Alex Seitz-Wald and Jonathan Kay concerning Tracy’s alleged derangement.

January 10 Infowars Nightly News with Rob Dew
January 15, 2013

Taft Union High School Drill Becomes “Real Life”
January 16, 2013
Was the tragic January 10 shooting at Taft Union High School part of a drill that “went live”? This is the impression one gets when analyzing media reports of the incident, such as those from CNN correspondent Khung Lah. Taft School District Superintendent Bill McDermott stated that on the morning of January 10 at 7:30AM PST Taft Union High School staff participated in “lockdown training.” The public school, located roughly two hours northwest of Los Angeles, encompasses grades nine through 12 with about 935 students and 64 faculty members.

Higher Education and Academic Freedom Under Attack
January 19, 2013
James Tracy discusses the Sandy Hook media frenzy and academic freedom on KPFA’s The Morning Mix with Project Censored’s Mickey Huff and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Robert Shipley.

CIA Document 1035-960: Foundation of a Weaponized Term
January 20, 2013
“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate.

An Open Letter In Support of Dr. Tracy and Academic Freedom
January 25, 2013
Dear Florida Atlantic University administrators: I am writing to express support for Dr. Tracy’s right to express his views and pose his questions. Indeed, as an associate professor, he has a professional responsibility to do so. Sadly, voicing unpopular views is a responsibility that is largely neglected in the academy. And even if Dr. Tracy has made some misjudgments regarding the present case (about which I reserve judgment), at least he has demonstrated an uncommon degree of courage in voicing opinions that risk engendering personal troubles.

The Sandy Hook Controversy: James Tracy on GRTV
January 28, 2013
After writing a series of articles documenting the discrepancies and outright lies in the official narrative of the Sandy Hook shooting, Professor James Tracy of Florida Atlantic University shot to international attention when the establishment media began covering his work. Now, Dr. Tracy is left trying to explain the misinterpretations, lies and soundbites that the mainstream media is using to discredit his work.

An Inquisitive Couple’s Visit to Newtown Connecticut
January 28, 2013
My partner and I became fed up with the mainstream media’s depiction of what took place in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. So on January 20 we traveled there from our home in Ottawa Canada in an effort to visit the sites and respectfully approach the locals.

Live Shooter Drill Hoax Played on Nation’s Most Vulnerable Children
February 2, 2013
On the morning of December 18, 2012 administrators at New York City Public School 79 (the Horan School) in East Harlem conducted an entirely unannounced “active shooter drill.” The event, which took place just four days after the high profile Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut, terrified the school’s 300 special needs adolescent and young adult students and the 100 teaching and counseling staff members.

An Open Letter to FAU Faculty, Staff, and Administration About Sandy Hook
February 6, 2013
All, Because James Tracy and I have been attacked as faculty members–I am now retired, while he is not–for speaking out about  Sandy Hook, I would observe that this is a very messy case and that serious questions are being raised about it from a wide range of perspectives.   It is clearly complex and controversial but also falls squarely within Dr. Tracy’s areas of professional competence, which include conspiracy theories and culture, malfeasance by the media and related issues. Tenure was created to protect faculty from the political consequences that might otherwise attend addressing complex and controversial matters of this very kind.

Corporate Media’s Lone Gunman Storyline Losing Ground
February 9, 2013
A cross section of kill-to-injury ratios of major mass shootings suggests that if Adam Lanza acted alone in carrying out the Sandy Hook Elementary School carnage he was among the most accurate killers in modern history, exceeding even the lethal damage meted out by Al Capone’s machine gun-wielding henchmen in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Sandy Hook Massacre Versus the Dorner Rampage: Corporate Media Double Standard
February 16, 2013
It’s no secret that journalists working for the bulk of mainstream news outlets seek to uncover and exploit every facet of gruesome events such as ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner’s apparent rampage or the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown Connecticut.

PBS Defies Basic Journalistic Standards to Push Sandy Hook Official Narrative
February 23, 2013
This past week the Public Broadcasting Service presented its viewership with a flurry of reportage and commentary on the Newtown tragedy, taking special care to closely associate the incident with the issues of gun control, mental health, and school safety. Specific programs have included Washington Week, PBS NewsHour, NOVA, and FRONTLINE.

Open Letter to FAU Administration by Filmmaker Adnan Zuberi
February 28, 2013
I have examined Professor James Tracy’s writings regarding the Newtown, Conn., massacre and I am briefly presenting a case-study to you on how a university can deal with this situation. I was awarded by the University of Toronto for my documentary entitled 9/11 in the Academic Community which examines how academia treats critical perspectives of media or governmental narratives.

“Extremist” Publicity and Historical Reality
March 13, 2013
The Southern Poverty Law Center[1] is advising the US government of the alleged “domestic terror threat” posed by political conservatives, “conspiracy theorists,” and others skeptical of their government’s policies and behavior. A March 5, 2012 letter to the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security points to the group’s recent report, “The Year in Hate and Extremism.” The study uses SPLC data to point to an almost one thousand percent upsurge in “militias and radical antigovernment groups … from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.”

Video: Sandy Hook News Coverage
March 20, 2013
“Sandy Hook: Do You Believe That America?” includes several important clips, many of which have been overlooked or disappeared from the web since December 14. The selection and sequence overall highlight the inconsistent and contradictory news coverage of that day. Produced by insanemedia.net

In Search of the Last Liberal Intellectual
March 27, 2013
In the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting public incredulity with the official version of events led to numerous speculations on what really happened. In short order corporate media marshaled pundits to disparage such alternative interpretations as “conspiracy theories” and the work of deranged and even malevolent Sandy Hook “truthers.”

A Remarkable Confluence of Events
March 29, 2013
Recent entries on the Sandy Hook Massacre Timeline suggest how March 28, 2013 was an especially important date coordinated to bring together the United Nations-led campaign to address the conventional weapons trade and accelerate gun control-related public relations efforts directed toward the American people.

Crisis Actors at Sandy Hook?
April 11, 2013
A Memoryholeblog reader who wishes to remain anonymous has submitted the following Internet Archive captures of previously-published profiles from the CrisisActors.org website. These have been juxtaposed by the contributor with stills from news interviews with individuals appearing in various footage of the Sandy Hook massacre aftermath.

Higher Ed Outlets Address Reprimand of Professor for Blog
April 12, 2013
Two notable professional academic publications examine disciplinary measures taken against James Tracy for media attention given to articles appearing on memoryholeblog that questioned the official Newtown narrative.

Newtown World Order Religion
April 14, 2013
The Sandy Hook School massacre of December 14 has no doubt been seized upon by the present police state as a raison d’être for heightened gun control measures. Yet a more subtle element of the event is the promotion of a political worldview under the cloak of psychiatry and an increasingly prominent notion of “community building.”

“The Most Crucial of All Human Rights”
April 22, 2013

AAUP Letter to FAU President Mary Jane Saunders
April 25, 2013
In a letter to the president of Florida Atlantic University, the AAUP defended a communication professor’s right, under principles of academic freedom, to speak on matters of public concern without fear of institutional discipline.

“Why James Tracy Should Resign”
May 15, 2013
In a recent letter to local newspapers I have been publicly accused by colleagues of being a “conspiracy theorist.” The statement’s authors are asking that I resign my university post because my extracurricular commentary is deemed offensive and allegedly interferes with my ability to properly assess and articulate complex ideas in a scholarly manner.

Secret Government, Deep Events, and the Emerging Police State
May 18, 2013
Most will likely agree that 9/11 is a qualitatively different event from the Sandy Hook massacre and Boston bombing. Nevertheless, with such highly questionable events the first question that must be asked is, “Did something happen?” The second question is, “What happened?” These questions lead us to ask why such events happen, what parties are behind the events and what are their possible rationales.

Media Disinformation and the Conspiracy Panic Phenomenon
May 24, 2013
To posit that one’s government may be partially composed of unaccountable criminal elements is cause for serious censure in polite circles. Labeled “conspiracy theories” by a corporate media that prompt and channel emotionally-laden mass consent, such perspectives are quickly dispatched to the memory hole lest they prompt meaningful discussion of the political prerogatives and designs held by a global power elite coordinating governments and broader geopolitical configurations.

A Memorial Day Trip to Sandy Hook
June 1, 2013

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Letter to FAU President Mary Jane Saunders
June 5, 2013
… FIRE is concerned with the threat to freedom of expression presented by Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU’s) sanctions against Professor James Tracy due to the content of his personal blog. FAU’s actions violate Tracy’s right to freedom of expression and threaten the academic freedom of all FAU faculty. FAU must recognize its moral and legal obligations under the First Amendment and immediately reverse its disciplinary actions.

What Time Are Newtown Schools in Session
June 12, 2013
A central assumed data point of the December 14 2012 Newtown Connecticut shooting as evidenced on the Sandy Hook Timeline and through government pronouncements and press reports is that at 9:30AM a deranged Adam Lanza, dressed for combat and wielding several firearms, gained entry into Sandy Hook Elementary School and slaughtered 26 students and educators.

An Open Letter to the South Florida Sun Sentinel
June 20, 2013
On June 3 James Tracy sent a letter to Sun-Sentinel editor-in-chief Howard Saltz citing the paper’s repeated attacks on Tracy for publicly questioning government pronouncements and overall news coverage of the Sandy Hook massacre and Boston Marathon bombing. In a June 17 response to the letter Saltz maintains that the Sun-Sentinel‘s coverage is defensible given its newsworthiness and under the tenets of free speech.

Video: “No Blood” and “The Watcher is Back”
June 22, 2013
In a conference call of Sandy Hook researchers earlier this month, one individual explains her unanswered queries to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Lieutenant J. Paul Vance concerning what parties were responsible for cleaning up the gruesome crime scene at the Sandy Hook school last December. DEEP deferred to the State Police. “What blood?” Vance responded, before deferring to yet another state agency.

Mass Traumatization and the Body Politic
July 2, 2013
A long-held desire of the technocratic worldview involves manipulation and control of a national and even international body politic. “This planetary consciousness,” Zbigniew Brzezinski observes, brings into closer view a single indivisible humanity united by the soft tyranny of depersonalized and omnipresent coercion.

James Tracy on The Power Hour, July 17, 2013
July 18, 2013
James Tracy discusses the latest investigation into the Sandy Hook shooting and related topics on GCN with Joyce Riley.

Nationwide Post-Sandy Hook Terror Drills: Real or Fake?
August 22, 2013
With the school year now underway a flurry of federally-coordinated “active shooter drills” are taking place across the country. The exercises are part of a broader program the FBI is carrying out as a result of an Obama’s directive following the December 2012 Newtown school massacre.

US Public Schools Train to Finger Mental Cases
August 26, 2013
An appendage of the world’s foremost advocate of psychiatric treatment, the American Psychiatric Association, is actively promoting a “teacher training program” that will enlist public school staff to identify “troubled thought patterns” of teenage students, NBC news reports.[1] The campaign is being pushed by the American Psychiatric Foundation, the “philanthropic and educational arm of the American Psychiatric Association,” according to APF’s own website.

Obama DOJ in $2.5 Million Sandy Hook Payout
September 3, 2013
As the nation’s attention turned to potential US military aggression in the Middle East, the Obama administration has made an unusual $2.5 million payout to Connecticut law enforcement and emergency response agencies for their participation in the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre event.

Video: Over 30 Sandy Hook Homes “Gifted” in 2009?
September 13, 2013
Newtown property records suggest that on December 25, 2009 a total of 35 properties located on and around Yogananda Street in Sandy Hook were transferred at zero value to new owners.

Video: James Tracy Responds to Latest MSM Assault
September 20, 2013
Early on September 18 James Tracy posted several videos, photos and other materials, most of which were emailed to him by MHB readers concerning the September 16 DC Navy Yard shooting incident. No discernible claims or arguments were made regarding what took place at Navy Yard, only attempted descriptions of the items posted.

Sandy Hook School Slated for Demolition
October 5, 2013
Connecticut political leaders are moving decisively to destroy the site of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. On September 24 Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced the state’s $50 million commitment to tear down the 57-year-old Sandy Hook School structure and replace it with a new high-priced facility.

Sandy Hook Actors’ Elite Political Connections
October 13, 2013
Francine Wheeler (Lobis), the mother of 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler who authorities say was killed alongside 25 others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, is also a professional musician and actor.

The AR15 Dog and Pony Show
October 18, 2013
As someone who has followed the Sandy Hook story and the subsequent push for increased gun control quite closely, imagine my surprise to learn from a June 2013 article published in the literary magazine Harper’s that the hue and cry around having the public’s access to weapons reined in may indeed be an ongoing dog-and-pony show intended for perception management only.

Sandy Hook Demolition Crew Sworn to Silence
October 15, 2013
Employees of a construction company contracted by Newtown to demolish Sandy Hook Elementary School must sign non-disclosure agreements before commencing work on the project, scheduled to begin October 21.

Video: Brendan Hunt Returns to Sandy Hook
October 22, 2013
On Sunday, October 20 New York-based videographer and independent researcher Brendan Hunt visited Newtown to further document the Sandy Hook Elementary School and its surroundings. The School is scheduled for demolition this week.

Demolition Underway at Sandy Hook
October 25, 2013

Unraveling Sandy Hook in 2, 3, 4, and 5 Dimensions
November 7, 2013
In this ninety-minute video independent researcher Sofia Smallstorm presents a thoroughgoing examination of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre event.

Smallstorm and Fetzer on Sandy Hook, Fukushima, Radiation
November 20, 2013
Sofia Smallstorm offers a detailed discussion of her recent video presentation, Unraveling Sandy Hook, on Professor Jim Fetzer’s The Real Deal radio program.

Newtown 911 Calls Released
December 5, 2013

CT State Emergency System Hijacked on December 14, 2012
December 9, 2013
We can now prove that the entire CT State emergency communications system was ‘hijacked’ and ‘unplugged’ on December 14th., 2012, per an elaborate frequency change plan implemented merely 5 hours in advance on that morning, effectively supplanting and replacing normal police and EMS with FEMA / DHS ‘shadow’ command center personnel, where it turns out that they (the HOAX perpetrators from FEMA) made one critical mistake that they hoped nobody would catch.

Sandy Hook One Year After
December 12, 2013
As the nation approaches the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, mainstream media are predictably excluding from their tragedy porn any substantive analysis of the idiosyncratic, misleading, and in some cases flagrantly propagandistic reportage of the event that might call the official story into question.

Video: Sandy Hook Child Victims at 2013 Super Bowl
December 14, 2013
The words might be more fitting as a banner on the National Enquirer. Yet according to this brief (2:33) video, several of the first graders slain in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, 2012 are not only alive and well, but rather famously performing the US National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVII.

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Is the NSA Blackmailing Its Overseers In Washington?

Are the Intelligence Committees Being Blackmailed? During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on two prominent politicians – Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker – as well as critics of government policy Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, and a Washington … Continue reading

Is the NSA Blackmailing Its Overseers In Washington? was originally published on Washington's Blog

The Day John Kennedy Died

By James F. Tracy

When I first heard Lou Reed’s “The Day John Kennedy Died” while a sophomore at college, it momentarily bridged an otherwise broad, taken-for granted generational divide between my parents and I.

“I dreamed I was the president / Of these United States,” Reed began with his trademark awkwardness.

I dreamed I replaced ignorance
Stupidity and hate
I dreamed the perfect union
And a perfect law, undenied
And most of all I dreamed I forgot
The day John Kennedy died

Indeed, for a majority of Americans John Kennedy symbolized the intersection of national history and personal biography. This is evident, for example, in the “Where were you when you heard the news?” stories they guardedly shared. Those at once distant yet intimate junctures suggest something much larger—the possibilities Kennedy signified on a level transcending the personal means and desires of common people and yet determining their fate—particularly civil rights, economics, and foreign policy.

There is a strong likelihood that Kennedy’s guiding mission in the last months of his life involved the prospect of a world order subject to personal introspection on the significance of peace versus a dangerous and wasteful arms race and continued flirtation with nuclear catastrophe.

At the same time, much like Martin Luther King Jr. and his brother Robert came to realize several years later, John Kennedy understood in the last months of his life how the forces arrayed against him were far greater than he could overcome. To this day such forces remain unseen and hence, for a broad swath of the US public incessantly coaxed by its media minders, are ushered to the realm of the unspeakable.

Months after the world’ narrow escape from the Cuban missile crisis President Kennedy laid down his challenge to the military industrial complex by proposing the possibility of world peace in the famous speech to American University’s 1963 graduating class. “The nonviolent theme of the American University Address,” author James W. Douglas observes, “is that self-examination is the beginning of peace. Kennedy was proposing to the American University graduates (and the national audience behind them) that they unite this inner journey of peace with an outward journey that could transform the Cold War landscape.”

The discourse was a signal moment in Kennedy’s presidency that precipitated the achievement of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It was also significant in terms of world public opinion, being broadcast widely in the Soviet Union. Perhaps unsurprisingly the address received little fanfare in the American press, for it “was considered treasonous by forces in his own government.” Nevertheless, as Douglas notes, the wish and intent of the speech, the

call for an end to the Cold War, five and a one half months before his assassination, anticipates Dr. King’s courage in his April 4, 1967, Riverside Church address calling for an end to the Vietnam War, exactly one year before his assassination. Each of those transforming speeches was a prophetic statement provoking the reward a prophet traditionally receives. John Kennedy’s American University address was to his death in Dallas as Martin Luther King’s Riverside Church address was to his death in Memphis.[1]

Kennedy’s violent mediated demise traumatized an entire nation, constituting a form of mass coercion that—much like 9/11—disciplined the body politic into acceptance of the military-industrial complex’s ever-expanding psychic and material tyranny.

Like our parents and grandparents before us, the American people have been continually shocked and disciplined away from considering the prospects of peace and toward fulfillment of priorities that run counter to their own interests, and for which they (we) exercise no meaningful input.

Much as Kennedy’s brief time as president increasingly suggested the crystallization of a popular will toward peace and higher purpose, his public execution on November 22, 1963 demonstrated a fierce existential negation of such desires. Those aspirations become more and more remote as the possibilities for the broader public to recollect and apprehend the historical record are discouraged, lost, or otherwise rendered meaningless.

Public suspicion over the actual circumstances surrounding JFK’s killing was at one point difficult to subdue. Following President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 and subsequent Congressional investigations into the US intelligence community thru the early 2000s, an overwhelming majority of the US public (75 to 80 percent) recognized serious flaws in the Warren Commission and mainstream media’s strongly imposed conspiracy theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin.[2] Today, however, only 50 to 60 percent question the bizarre account,[3] suggesting an increasingly depoliticized and ahistorical populace cultivated by mass public schooling and corporate media.

Those conscious of JFK’s assassination yet too young to recollect it firsthand may have encountered it in a multitude of vicarious ways. This was perhaps even more so the case in Irish-Catholic households. I once told my father that he reminded me of Ted Kennedy. I didn’t need to tell him why. Both were largely overshadowed yet also defined by their older brothers’ achievements—and tragedies. I recall my father often suggesting how he wished I could have known his older brothers, one of whom was killed in an auto accident at 31, and another from a heart attack at 50. Unlike dad, the wayward upstart of the three, each attended the best prep schools and universities and were destined for greatness—the former as an attorney and the latter a physician with political ambitions and boundless enthusiasm for the Kennedys. “You were short-changed,” my father would say, distantly. Like a host of other larger-than-life figures I never personally knew, his brothers were warmly resurrected in stories he would tell.

While going through dad’s personal effects several years ago, often imagining him beside me, I found a copy of Kenneth O’Donnell’s Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, along with several complete copies of the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, dated November 23, 1963 and June 6, 1968. Implicit in the magic and promise eclipsed by loss was the intimate experience of biography and history, and the growing realization that we’ve all been short-changed.

Forgetting the day John Kennedy died requires an enduring awareness that the popular will JFK symbolized and envisioned 50 years ago was effectively vetoed by an unelected force, and the cascade of subsequent overlooked and unresolved deep events have allowed that America to be replaced by today’s war on terror, growing police state, and drive toward global corporate governance.

Notes


[1] James W. Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, 36, 46.

[2] Darren K. Carlson, “Most Americans Believe Oswald Conspired with Others to Kill JFK,” Gallup News Service, April 11, 2001.

[3] Art Swift, “Majority in U.S. Still Believe JFK Killed in a Conspiracy,” Gallup.com, November 15, 2013; Jim Williams, “Conspiracy Theory Poll Results,” Public Policy Polling, April 2, 2013.

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From the Summer of Love to the Arab Spring

Those who believe that the world of being is governed by luck or chance and that it depends upon material causes are far removed from the divine and from the notion of the One.
— Plotinus

On May 27, 2010 the planet Uranus entered Aries and in December of that same year, in Tunisia, Tarek Bouazizi self-immolated himself after his electronic scale and the fruit he had bought on credit were confiscated from him by a corrupt policewoman.  That spark sent flames throughout the Middle East, toppling regimes from Libya to Yemen.  Uranus would make its definitive entry into Aries on the fateful day of March 11, 2011, coinciding almost to the hour with the earthquake and ensuing disaster at Fukushima.  Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and the most self driven while Uranus is the planet that represents revolution, innovation and change- together they make a radical, ego driven cocktail.

Uranus reflects many of the traits of the time it was discovered, 1781, when the American Revolution was in full bloom and the French variant was ready to boil over.  The last time the restless Uranus had passed through the cardinal sign of Aries was between 1927 and 1935, a time when two of the most revolutionary (Uranus), and megalomaniacal (Aries) leaders in history consolidated power.  Uranus will not definitively leave Aries until March 6, 2019,  by which time the world will have undergone profound changes.  We cannot say with certainty whether another calamitous dictator will appear on the world stage, but, at least in the West, we are devoid of inspired political, cultural and spiritual leadership and someone with exceptional qualities could become the focal point of a world thirsty for meaning and direction.

On one level, astrology is understanding cycles and knowing how to distinguish relevant themes from the noise.  Astrologically speaking, the synodic cycle between Uranus and Pluto lasts approximately 128 years, which means that it takes that much time for the two planets to circle each other once.  Since Uranus (84 year orbit around the sun) moves much faster than Pluto (245 year orbit around  the sun) the synodic cycle describes how long it takes Uranus to ‘lap’ Pluto in their ‘race’ around our star.  Astrologers measure these events from the moment the two planets are exactly together (conjunct) and pay special attention to when the two planets are at hard angles:  opposed to each other (180 degrees) and square (45 degrees).  The story begins with the conjunction and slowly unfolds at the first square, reaches a climax at the opposition, and resolves itself at the second square before coming full circle and beginning again.

The Pluto/Uranus Cycle


This current synodic cycle between Pluto and Uranus began when the two planets met between 1962 and 1968 in the sign of Virgo.  A conjunction in astrology refers to a more congenial blend of the planetary forces, but in the case of these two transpersonal superpowers, even when cooperating, their force can seem overwhelming.  Uranus is the symbol of revolt, change and technical innovation while Pluto is the lord of death and debt- the cosmic enforcer and the ultimate symbol of power.

When these two met in the 1960’s all hell broke loose.  Pluto waged war in Vietnam and set off the Cultural Revolution in China while Uranus instigated the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the May of 1968 unrest in France, the Prague Spring, and the space age.  Some would say the dark Plutonian forces won out when the Prague Spring was crushed, the Kennedys and Martin Luther King were assassinated just as the Uranian energy was devolving into Mansonian madness.  The Apollo Program was one of the few areas where the Uranian revolutionary technology meshed well with Plutonian brute force.  But each planet also reached into the sphere of the other, the helicopter in Vietnam had a very Uranian flavor to it while the gods of Rock & Roll certainly had a Plutonian, underworld feel to them.

The key to unraveling where we are now is to uncover the seeds sown in the 1960’s and discover what fruits they have borne so far and how these forces will continue to interact, albeit in a more antagonistic and adversarial way as we pass through a long series of squares.  Pluto is now in Capricorn, the sign of governments, armies, corporations, bureaucracy and culture.  Pluto is certainly at home wielding all this power and the Plutonian compulsion to vaporize all that is weak, superfluous and temporary is implacable.  Just as Pluto entered Capricorn for the first time in January of 2008 the financial crisis began, and by his second entry into Capricorn in November of 2008 the world financial system was teetering on the edge of disaster.

As Pluto was shaking out the fraudulent bankers like a mafia Don knocking off underlings who had their hands stuck in the cookie jar, Uranus in Aries was creating a quirky brand of revolutionaries such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Eric Snowden.  The police state that emerged out of 9/11 has a very strong Plutonian flavor which is being opposed by this eccentric band of techno-freedom fighters very much in the Uranian mold.

On November 1, 2013 we reached the apex, or fourth of the seven direct squares between Pluto and Uranus, where the two planets will be at an exact 45 degree angles to each other.  Four was the number of endings, of life without spirit for the ancients, and dividing the 360 degree zodiac into four gives us the most malignant of aspects, the 90 degree square.  On the other hand, the zodiacal circle divided by the benefic number three gives us the most harmonious aspect of 120 degrees, or a trine.

Adding emphasis to the importance of this moment, we had a total solar eclipse on November 3, 2013 in the very Plutonian sign of Scorpio which could portend a resolution much like the one we had in the 1960’s.  The cosmic call to attention will become even more intense in December with the ominous entrance of the comet ISON, which could potentially put on a brilliant show across the winter nights. The last exact square of Pluto and Uranus will be in March of 2015, at which point the two planets will move apart and the cycle will look for new themes when the planets reach opposition in 2043.



What will be the outcome of this great battle?  One place to look is the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, over two hundred and thirty-years ago during the American Revolution.  At that time the strong hands were the colonists who overcame the weight of the of Capricornian British Empire, but they had someone on their side, which was Jupiter.  Jupiter is Zeus, the great benefic, giver of good fortune, opposing Pluto in Capricorn.  Jupiter was in Cancer during the American Revolution. Cancer is a very feminine, lunar sign representing the individual, the home, roots and directly opposes the authority and bureaucracy of Capricorn.

The United States has come full circle and once again, as in 1776, we have Jupiter in Cancer, and Pluto in Capricorn, only this time, instead of the enemy being the British Empire, the enemy is the US Government itself, with its NSA, CIA, Federal Reserve, and military sprawled across the world reeking havoc and chaos on the entire planet.  But it seems clear, especially after the failed attempt to attack Syria, that US power is on the wane and some major event will drive home the need for a change of the global guard.

The plan to attack Syria had a definite Plutonian flavor, not only through the gruesome massacres and filmed barbaric acts, but with the way many governments of the world quickly closed ranks to carry out the attack on Assad.  Only the Uranian rebelliousness of the British Parliament and the American voters stopped them short.  But as the sixties showed, Pluto can never be stopped, only momentarily diverted.  What started in Libya as Uranian restlessness wound up in a horrific, filmed and very Plutonian fratricide.  How will Pluto counterattack in Syria? We should remember that Pluto was discovered in 1930;  the historic background of the Depression and the rise of fascism should give us pause when considering the essence of Pluto’s meaning.

This tension will come to a head on April 20, 2014, when Jupiter in Cancer goes head to head in opposition (180 degrees) with Pluto in Capricorn, with both planets square (45 degrees) Uranus in Aires.  Astrologers refer to this aspect as a T-Square, and it is considered the most tense and conflictive aspect that three planets can form.  The Plutonian force is the NSA scooping up every email and phone conversation in the world; Pluto has no limits, and as he works his way through Capricorn, the sign of time and culture, he is shredding all the false claims of security and patriotism.  He is the Egyptian military storming its way back into power, he is the Saudis doing all that is necessary to oust the Assad regime in Syria.  Pluto doesn't do body counts.  It was Pluto who wiped Osama bin Laden off the face of the earth without trace.

Uranus is the Middle Eastern youth tired of oppression and corruption, facing down the old regime, he's the Occupy Movement and the mad rush for technology.  He’s Eric Snowden escaping to Moscow with thousands of Plutonian files.  Uranus is the upsurgent alternative media that refuses to believe the Plutonian mainstream propaganda.  Something has to give, and that is the beauty of three.


Esoterically, the unity of ones falls into the duality of two, which becomes the resolution of three.  Jupiter, the philosophical benefic, friend of man, is in Cancer where he is exalted.  Exaltation in astrology means the sign where a planet reaches its higher resonance.  The beauty and love of Venus becomes the love of God in Pisces.  The violence of Mars becomes a standing army in Capricorn, and Jupiter’s genius, philosophy and pride serve man in Cancer.  Maybe we saw Jupiter's hand in the diffusing of the American attack on Syria, though one shouldn't count Pluto out on that score;  he’ll be back to try to complete his agenda.  Jupiter is Zeus, the ruler of the Olympians, including Pluto, and through his higher thinking there still might be a way out.

The easy answer is to call for the much lauded happy medium- a little Uranian eccentric individualism, a smattering of Plutonian force behind Capricornian order, and of course the Jupiterian law and philosophy aiding the man in his Cancerian home.  But a battle of this magnitude will not end in a smoke filled room but rather a bloody, smoked covered battlefield.  The stakes have become too high.  The Capricornian financial system has created a Plutocracy never before witnessed and this regime will either conquer all or be conquered, there is no negotiating with Pluto; it will be winner take all.

The concentration of  power that we are witnessing in the world, financially, culturally and militarily, in many ways is a direct result of the Uranian technological advances of the 20th century.  We can see the Uranus/Pluto relationship perfectly in the Internet.  On one hand it’s anarchistic and liberating, but by the same token it allows the Plutonian Big Brother a clear view directly into almost every moment of our lives.

For the United States nothing captured the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the Summer of Love better than the Uranian liberation of Haight-Ashbury and the Plutonian violence of the Vietnam War. The Uranian desire for change and innovation led spiritual seekers of the sixties to turn their acid trips into PC’s and the Internet, while the humbled military industrial complex bounced back, putting soldiers in over eighty countries and killing people by remote control.  Both of these forces have made enormous strides in the dehumanization of man, from Chinese factories to Wall Street speculators, even to the point where West Coast, Uranian hipsters are playing footsie with the NSA by giving them access to literally all of humanities digital communications.  The answer to this truly Cardinal T-Square is Jupiter, Lord of Olympus, wielding his thunderbolts from the very personal and human sign of Cancer.

Astrology is very much like Schrodinger's cat in that until we open the door, we don’t know whether the poor feline is alive or dead.  The same goes with this T-Square.  Only by actively seeking an answer in the cardinal sign of Cancer, temporary home to Jupiter, will the options begin to emerge.  The consciousness we bring to it will create not only the solutions but the synchronicities that confirm them.

We have lost a central belief that the ancients intrinsically understood- that the world is alive and has a soul. They felt the world breath and saw its life force reflected in the world’s soul, the Anima Mundi.  Our modern dogmatic religion, science, refuses to accept that the earth is alive and has a meaning interwoven with its existence just as each and every one of us knows that our lives have purpose.  For dogmatic materialists, astrology is as absurd as the idea of the soul itself.  For them, the world is a dead rock, an arbitrary spark in a meaningless sea of chaos.

The meaning we give, and the connection we make between our lives and the earth's life will finally confirm the reality we help create by unmistakable signs in the heavens and on earth.  We treat dogs differently then we do rocks and we approach a plant more subtly than we do a hill of sand.  What astrology is begging us to remember is that not only are we alive, but so is the earth, our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. When we finally see ourselves as living beings, fractals of what is above, reflections of what is below, only then will we find our way.

Cancer represents the most basic feminine principle of form and being.  By denying that our very home and common mother breaths the same life we do has allowed us to drift so far on this misguided, patriarchal adventure.  The wisdom of Jupiter illuminating the primeval feminine Cancer might awaken us again to this long forgotten truth.

As we feel more and more squeezed between the financial, militaristic, and corporate Plutocracy on one hand, and the gadgetized, ever evolving, egocentric and meaningless technological void of Uranus on the other, Jupiter in Cancer may well help us re-encounter our common soul, Anima Mundi.

One analogy used by Graham Hancock is that of televisions.  Are we all creating and watching our own programming, or are we receiving a cosmic signal and each decoding it in our own manner?  If we reject the unique separation model, than our true selves lie in the signal, not the dumb terminal of the mind.  Awakening to our unified soul against a materialistically dogmatic backdrop is the great challenge of our time. What type of cosmic event could change our focus, moving us away from the mundane to the cosmic?

If there is coherent meaning to our existence, then there are meaningful coincidences, or synchronicities, as Jung called them.  On February 11, 2013, with the Sun in the sign of Aquarius, which many modern astrologers designate as ruled by Uranus, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was resigning.  The most widely recognized symbol of Western dogmatic spirituality would resign by his own accord for the first time in over 700 years.  The next day, as if for emphasis, a lightning bolt struck the top of St. Peter’s Basilica.  Four days after the papal resignation, a meteor exploded over the skies of  Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals, shattering thousands of windows, sending over 1,400 people to the hospital and for a few moments creating a light brighter than the sun.  Uranus made its case in the opening salvos of the year in his sign, Aquarius, so what will Pluto bring us as the sun moves through Scorpio, the sign many consider to be ruled by him?

With the Sun in Scorpio, on November 1st we had the fourth exact square between Uranus and Pluto and on November 3rd a total solar eclipse.  What other events could await us as we reach the peak of activity for the current Solar cycle?  It wouldn't be surprising if in the final weeks of Scorpio we were given one more synchronicity, one more reminder that our souls lie beyond our heads, the circus that captivates us and the money we so desperately seek.  One more powerful synchronicity might reawaken the awareness of our common soul and liberate us from the prison of false isolation.  One potent sign born out of the cosmic duality that moves our attention upward and beyond the mundane with such a powerful force that few could doubt its significance.


Robert Bonomo is a blogger, novelist and esotericist.  Download his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, for free here.

Fiasco Obamacare Debut


Fiasco Obamacare Debut

by Stephen Lendman

Obamacare's painful rollout is the least of its problems. More on that below. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is rife with problems. It's a ripoff. It's a boon to healthcare providers. It scams most enrollees. 

It's not universal as promised. It leaves millions of Americans uninsured. It leaves most others woefully underinsured.

US healthcare already is unaffordable. Obamacare makes it more so. It lawlessly invades privacy. It compromises a fundamental human right.

Martin Luther King once said:

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in heath care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Obamacare mandates making a failed system worse. It guarantees inequality. It institutionalizes it. It does so legally. 

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a universal single-payer activist. She's a Physicians for a National Health Program congressional fellow. She's US Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Health.

She's a Healthcare-NOW! board member. It addresses America's health insurance crisis. Obamacare made it worse. Dr. Flowers calls it "perhaps the greatest corporate scam ever."

Healthcare giants wrote the law. It assures greater than ever profits. It's at the expense of proper healthcare. "(S)hoddy products" insurers offer don't provide it, said Dr. Flowers.

US-style healthcare doesn't work. It's the world's most expensive by far. It provides the least bang for the buck. "It means that people only receive the health care they can afford, not what they need," explains Dr. Flowers.

It "leaves tens of millions without coverage." It "lowers the bar on what is considered to be acceptable insurance coverage." 

Most plans offered mandate huge deductibles and co-pays. Doing so means unaffordable out-of-pocket costs for tens of millions.

Federal subsidies for America's poor are woefully inadequate. Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable. 

Medical expense debt is the nation's leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Healthcare gets increasingly more expensive. Insurers scam the system for profit.

According to Dr. Flowers, "expect them to justify higher premiums and to push for lower levels of coverage or fewer required services. And we can expect (federal and state authorities to be) compliant, as they have been."

Healthcare isn't a commodity. It's a fundamental human right. Privatizing it is polar opposite of what's needed. "We need Medicare for all now," says Dr. Flowers.

Everyone in! No one left out! Everybody gets identical coverage. Illness guarantees equal treatment. ACA assures separate and unequal. For many, it means pay or die.

October 1 was ACA rollout day. Web site access problems accompanied it. Millions needing to enroll in healthcare exchanges can't do so. What should have been simple is nightmarish.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Washington had years to get ready. Failure perhaps is a metaphor for what never should been enacted in the first place.

On Monday, Obama acknowledged ongoing problems. At the same time, he minimized their severity. He didn't explain what went wrong, why, when they'll be fixed, or how to cope in the meantime.

Insurers are notifying customers their coverage is cancelled. It's because they're not complying with new ACA mandates.

Kaiser Health News said "Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80% of its individual policies in the state."

Kaiser Permanente in California notified 160,000 customers they're out. Pittsburgh's Highmark dropped about 20% of its enrollees. Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia cancelled about 45% of theirs.

Much the same thing is happening across America. ACA is barely three weeks old. Imagine how much worse things may get.

Obama lied saying if you like your coverage you can keep it. False! Force-fed options substitute. ACA institutionalized inequality. 

Millions are denied a fundamental human right. Millions more won't get enough of it to matter when they most need it.

New York Times editors were some of ACA's biggest boosters. They shamed themselves in the process. Even they expressed outrage over its "chaotic debut."

Unless serious problems are "fixed soon, they threaten to undermine" the entire system, they said.

"The administration created the Web site so the buck stops with high officials." Health and Human Services and Obama "allowed this to happen." They bear full responsibility.

Excuses offered don't wash. Enrollment procedures were supposed to be easy. Technical problems weren't supposed to happen.

Experts involved in fixing things say they're extensive. Perhaps months are needed to resolve them.

Millions are justifiably angry. They're frustrated. They're not sure what to do. Accountability is largely absent. Putting lipstick on this pig doesn't wash. 

Obama's signature initiative flopped on launch. Ahead expect things to get worse, not better. At issue isn't enrolling. 

It's what's covered, what isn't, cost, affordability, insurers gaming the system, and providing expensive treatments only to those who can pay for them out-of-pocket.

Obamacare's sick start reflects self-inflicted incompetence. Obama blamed snafus on system overloading. Search engines like Google handle billions of monthly visitors. They do so routinely.

Washington operates the world's most sophisticated supercomputers. Failure to get things right initially suggests lots more trouble ahead. Confidence once lost is hard to regain.

Consumer Reports (CR) reacted. After three weeks of testing, it said "stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can." Abstain until major problems plaguing it are fixed.

"Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they've made."

"The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly."

In ACA's first week, CR estimates about 270,000 people enrolled successfully. Nearly 9.5 million others tried and failed.

A week after launch, CR called Healthcare.gov "barely operational." On October 10, it said:

"(I)t's still next to impossible to create a user name and password that you can actually use to sign in." 

"(F)ive times (failed) without success. Our readers report similar frustrations." One wrote:

"Have been trying for a week, at least 10 times a day.  Have yet to get through the process."

Another said:

"Created account on 10/6 but unable to access it since then - get an error message saying that my account is not valid.' What a waste of my time."

"I have not been able to log in and I have tried 47 times," said a visitor to CR's Facebook's page of its online interactive HealthLawHelper.org site.

The only good news, said CR, is that "consumers coming to Healthcare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying they've been put in a waiting line."

On October 16, CR offered tips on Healthcare.gov registering. "We got advice from a pro software tester," it said.

(1) "Follow instructions when creating a user name." It's not easy. Instructions are garbled. They're needlessly complicated.

(2) "Move on immediately from failed logins."

"(D)on't believe all the status and error messages. They may not always match reality."

If what's tried doesn't work, use a different name, password and security question. Test to see if anything works.

(3) "Check your inbox frequently." If enrollment succeeds, "you should receive an 'account activation' e-mail (confirmation) within a few hours."

"Answer it promptly." Otherwise, "Healthcare.gov will time you out."

If no email arrives, you're back to square one. Start over.

(4) "Clear your cookies." If logging in to Healthcare.gov fails, most likely previous visits got your browser overloaded with them.

They exceed what the site can handle. It's one of many design errors. "(E)ither delete the cookies from your browser or log back in from" an alternative one.

If that's too much to handle, do nothing for several weeks. Then try again.

Marketplace coverage begins on January 1. Assuring it requires enrolling by December 15. Obamacare's rocky start suggests doing so won't be easy.

Millions already experienced error messages, delays, crashes, and stuck accounts.

Tech experts warned about problems in each enrollment step. According to healthcare consultant Dan Schuyler:

"There is grave concern that many individuals who are intent on securing coverage by (January 1) may not be able to do so by that date."

If "problems persist another three or four weeks, those at the back of the line will not have coverage."

Obamacare advocates knew they'd be problems. A pre-launch simulation test failed. It crashed. Federal officials went ahead as planned anyway.

Moments after midnight on October 1,  Healthcare.gov locked up. About 2,000 users couldn't complete step one in enrolling.

When millions tried doing so, things went from bad to worse. None of this should have happened. 

No one knows when problems will be resolved. It's unclear how many bugs beset the system.  Millions wanting to enroll are stuck in limbo. 

It remains to be seen what happens on January 1. Americans needing healthcare can't wait. They need it now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/fiasco-obamacare-debut/

Apologist for Assassination of Americans to Be Named as New Homeland Security Chief

Washington’s Blog
October 18, 2013

USA Today reports:

President Obama plans to nominate former Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson as the next secretary of homeland security, officials said Thursday.

Johnson is a supporter of assassinations … even against American citizens.

Image: Jeh Johnson.

AP noted in 2011:

U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.

***

The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson … said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.

Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

The New York Times noted:

Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives,” said Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department general counsel, in a speech at Yale Law School.

***

Still, Mr. Johnson invoked a lawsuit filed by Mr. Awlaki’s father before the killing that had sought an injunction against targeting his son, citing with approval a district judge’s decision to dismiss the case and saying that targeting decisions are not suited to court review because they must be made quickly and based on fast-evolving intelligence.

***

“The legal point is important because, in fact, over the last 10 years Al Qaeda has not only become more decentralized, it has also, for the most part, migrated away from Afghanistan to other places where it can find safe haven,” Mr. Johnson said.

This is particularly concerning since the U.S. wants to expand the assassination program to cover“ASSOCIATES of ASSOCIATES” of Al Qaeda … and blurs the lines between bad guys and average Americans.    This violates a little thing called the Fifth Amendment.

The Washington Post points out:

[A senior administration official] added that Johnson was “responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the president and secretary of defense” during Obama’s first term.

That presumably includes supporting Al Qaeda in Libya.

Wikipedia notes more unsavory aspects of Johnson’s background:

As General Counsel of the Defense Department, Johnson was a major player in certain key priorities of the Obama Administration, and he is considered one of the legal architects of the U.S. military’s current counterterrorism policies.

***

In August, 2010, Johnson was part of the public dialogue over the Wikileaks release of classified Pentagon documents known as the Afghan War Diary or The War Logs. “The Department of Defense will not negotiate some ‘minimized’ or ‘sanitized’ version of a release by WikiLeaks of additional U.S. government classified documents,” he wrote in a letter to Timothy J. Matusheski, a lawyer representing the online whistle-blowing organization pro bono. In August 2012, Johnson also wrote to the former Navy seal who authored the book “No Easy Day” and warned him of his material breach of his non-disclosure agreements with the Department of Defense.

***

In January 2011, Johnson provoked controversy when, according to a Department of Defense news story, he asserted in a speech at the Pentagon that deceased civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite King’s outspoken opposition to American interventionism during his lifetime….  Jeremy Scahill called Johnson’s remarks “one of the most despicable attempts at revisionist use of Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve ever seen,” while Justin Elliott of Salon.com argued that based on Dr. King’s opposition to the Vietnam War, he would likely have opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen.

***

In a February 2011, speech to the New York City Bar Association, Johnson “acknowledged the concerns raised” about the detention of alleged WikiLeaks sourcePrivate Bradley Manning and “stated that he had personally traveled to Quantico to conduct an investigation.” Human rights attorney and journalist Scott Horton wrote that “Johnson was remarkably unforthcoming about what he discovered and what conclusions he drew from his visit.”

This article was posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:39 am

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Rep. John Conyers Pushes for a “Full Employment” Bill

Congress approved an 11th-hour deal late last night to end the 16-day partial government shutdown and pull the nation back from the brink of an historic debt default. The spending measure passed the Senate and House of Representatives after Republicans dropped efforts to use the legislation to force changes in President Obama’s signature healthcare law. The spending bill offers only a temporary fix. It funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7. Rep. John Conyers says the focus should be on jobs, not debt. "We need a full employment bill. It is my hope that we can take the aim to create full employment for everybody in America and put it number one on our domestic agenda so that we create jobs and that we train people for important work," says Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. He recently celebrated nearly 50 years in Congress, the longest-ever by an African American.

TRANSCRIPT:

AMY GOODMAN: Congress approved an 11th-hour deal late last night to end the 16-day partial government shutdown and pull the nation back from the brink of an historic default. The spending measure passed the Senate and House of Representatives after Republicans dropped efforts to use the legislation to force changes in the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law. Obama signed the spending bill last night.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But, once again, I want to thank the leadership for coming together and getting this done. Hopefully next time it won’t be in the 11th hour. One of the things that I said throughout this process is, we’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: The spending bill offers only a temporary fix. It funds the government until January 15th and raises the debt ceiling ’til February 7th.

We go now to Washington, D.C. We’re joined by longtime Democratic Congressmember John Conyers of Michigan, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, has served more than 48 years in Congress, longer than any other African-American lawmaker, one of the longest-serving lawmakers in Congress.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Congressmember Conyers. Talk about the significance of this crisis for the moment being averted and what it cost the country.

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Top of the morning, Amy.

We finally, after 16 days, at the last hours, were able to get to some agreement that is really very short-lived. The continuing resolution only lasts 'til the middle of January—on Martin Luther King's birthday, ironically—and the debt ceiling expires on February 7th. So, this is merely kicking the can down the road, as they say.

I think it’s important, but I’m still trying to rationalize how the non-tea-party Republicans in the House can let the tea-party-oriented members in their caucus control everything. And it’s really kind of disappointing, because you can’t negotiate whether—over a dispute over one measure, which creates healthcare for millions of Americans that can’t afford it, that we would close down the funding of the entire government. This is a tactic that is so obviously out of place and makes the legislative process literally unworkable. And so it’s my hope that we can figure out a way to get this rolling again.

Speaker Boehner is in an incredible position, and his legacy is going to be determined by whether he continues to cave in to the ultra-conservatives in his caucus or not. To his credit, it seemed to me that he wanted to be more cooperative, but he was afraid of even being dismissed from the speakership. I think he’s over that kind of a hump, but it’s at a cost of $24 billion, 800,000 people out of work. And then the government, after we signed it late last night, they say, "All government workers, please come to work the very next day."

AMY GOODMAN: When you say cost of $24 billion, why did it cost the country, this shutdown?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, the shutdown took funding wherever there was federal funding, which is laced into so many of the important programs—for young people, for schools, for healthcare. And all of those people that would have been working would have been getting income and spending it. And so, that’s where the cost figure comes from, from Standard & Poor’s.

AMY GOODMAN: And there’s another $3 billion. Clearly, Senator Mitch McConnell, who is being credited with helping to resolve this conflict, got a big payment back for Kentucky, a $3 billion earmark—

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —for a dam.

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Yes, it’s—there were—there are a lot of things that were filtered into it that really had nothing to do with it. But we’re still wrestling, in the minds of many legislators, the issue between austerity and investment. And to me, that argument has been resolved in favor of investment, but there are still people that think that we can save our way. And this overemphasis on the national debt, to me, ignores the fact that we lost jobs. We lost work. We need a full employment bill. It’s my hope that we can take the aim to create full employment for everybody in America and put it number one on our domestic agenda, so that we create jobs and that we train people for important work and how to work.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Congressmember Conyers, President Obama has agreed to put Social Security and Medicare on the table. You rallied with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and retiree advocates against the proposed chained CPI Social Security cuts. So, this certainly isn’t over.

REP. JOHN CONYERS: No, no, not at all. And, you know, the president has been stable, and he and Majority Leader Reid, they set a good example for us. And I think that he’s got to really create a legacy that has a lot more to do with putting everybody back to work. The recession is not over yet. The recovery is slow. Unemployment is still way too high. And there’s so much more that we could do.

And to think that you would have so many members, 144 in the House and 18 in the Senate, who would say, "Well, there’s nothing wrong with shutting down the whole government, not raising the debt ceiling, and really hurting the credit rating of the largest, most powerful country in civilization." And it’s just unimaginable, the actions that they would turn to to get their way on a very small and modest bill, "Obamacare." We’re talking about universal healthcare for everybody, single-payer. That’s what the new direction is. And yet, this kind of "everything or nothing, and we’re going to get our way on any bill," that kind of an attitude destroys, really, or compromises the democratic legislative process—

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think we’ll see—

REP. JOHN CONYERS: —in a very big way.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think we’ll see single-payer in your lifetime? I mean, you’re celebrating almost 50 years in Congress. In the next 50 years that you serve?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: I think we’re on the way to single-payer because it’s been proven in all of the studies in the countries that have it that it—that it’s cost-effective and it’s healthier for people. It saves money. We spend far more money than anybody in the world on—of countries on healthcare. And our results are really not that encouraging.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to—

REP. JOHN CONYERS: So, I—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break, but we’re asking you to stay with us for the hour, because we’re going to go back in time to a case that has been unresolved for 28 years, one that you’ve been involved with from the very beginning—

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —calling for hearings and an investigation. And it’s the death of Alex Odeh, who was one of the leaders of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, blown up by a pipe bomb when he opened the door to his office and received a package. This was in Orange County, California. We’re going to talk about the call for a new investigation in his assassination. Stay with us.

Spontaneous Combustion and a Knight in Shining Armor


Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we will overturn Russia!” V.I. Lenin

The US left suffers from two maladies that persistently thwart any effort to move beyond the malaise of internet negativity and the false activism of online petitions. Setting aside those still desperately clinging to the Democratic Party womb, well-intentioned and serious radicals, young and old, have yet to draw the lessons necessary to unify and focus the seemingly limitless committees, coalitions, and centers that constitute our dysfunctional left.

Most damaging is the mindless and groundless faith in spontaneity. Far too many of our brothers and sisters believe that political action, organization, and change will come the way it does in Hollywood horror movies. The people will emerge from their homes, recognize the danger, and rally to confront the alien threat. Danger combines with self-interest to generate a spontaneous common resistance and a common response. While it makes for entertaining fiction, it seldom if ever happens in real life.

The Occupy movement was the latest iteration of this faith. Life proved that the notion of spontaneous organization and governance would end, leaving barely a trace of its prior existence. Decades before Occupy, the so-called New Left cast its fate to spontaneity. Programs, parties, agendas, etc. were eschewed; the “Movement” would find its own way. Oracles of that flawed thinking have gone on to their life's work as professors, professionals, and Democratic Party operatives.

In the rear-view mirror of bourgeois historians, political movements are depicted as spontaneous risings-- a kind of spontaneous combustion sparked by a particularly hostile affront or violent act. The US colonial rebellion against the British was “sparked” by the Boston Tea Party or the confrontations at Lexington and Concord, never mind the years of debate, struggle, and planning by the Sons of Liberty and other evolving organizations of resistance. Similarly, popular history poses the Civil Rights Movement as a burst of activism ignited by Rosa Parks' courage and channeled by police dogs and fire hoses. The decades of organized and planned resistance that prepared for this moment are largely ignored.

Faith in spontaneous struggle, trust in an instinctive, automatic confrontation with power, spawns inaction. If the oppressed and exploited will unerringly marshal resistance, there is no need to organize and agitate among them; they will find their way without the uninvited help of organizers and agitators. Professional revolutionaries need not apply. They must simply add their bodies to the “movement” when the magic moment arises.

A logical conclusion of the faith in spontaneity is the dangerous and destructive notion that “the worse things get, the better.” When enough pain is felt, the masses will rise; until then we meet in our diverse and numerous causes, sending checks, signing petitions and reassuring each other that something big will undoubtedly erupt.

Among Marxists, the cult of spontaneity takes the form of what V. I. Lenin called “economism.” By acknowledging only the objective conditions, the unseen operations of the laws of capitalist development, the tendency for capitalism towards crisis and the “immiseration of the proletariat,” these “Marxists” see no role for agitation and organization; they see no need for a party of revolutionaries. Instead, they count on the grinding inevitability of crude determinism.

Marxists (and trade union leaders) who fall into the trap of “economism” invariably bury the Marxist principle of class struggle in the day-to-day administration of trade unionism. In writing about the Marxist “economists” of his time, Lenin charged that they “demoralized the socialist consciousness by vulgarizing Marxism, by advocating the theory of the blunting of social contradictions, by declaring the idea of the social revolution... to be absurd, by reducing the working class movement and the class struggle to narrow trade-unionism and to a 'realistic' struggle for petty, gradual reforms. This was synonymous with bourgeois democracy's denial of socialism's right to independence and, consequently, of its right to existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the... working class movement into an appendage of the liberals.” (What Is To Be Done?)

Faith in spontaneity diminishes politics. Neither the vulgar belief that collective pain will birth action nor the “sophisticated” and distorted Marxist claim that objective laws will inexorably bring change stands the test of history. Agency-- the planned, concerted, and collective effort of organized groups-- make history.

If only we had a Lenin, Martin Luther King, Ralph Nader, etc., etc....”

A different, but closely related malady retards political action on the US left: the Knight in Shining Armor syndrome. Like spontaneity, it postpones action until something unknown and unpredictable happens; it replaces planned, concerted action with faith.

Many on the left are frozen with inaction while waiting for the next great emancipator or political super-star. This variant of celebrity worship is nurtured by the all-too-common brief appearance of prominent figures on the political stage while leaving no lasting movement or organization in their wake.

The Jesse Jackson Democratic primary campaigns of 1984 and 1988 are cases in point. Jackson offered the most progressive Democratic Party platform since the New Deal. In the first primary battle, he captured nearly 20% of the popular vote. In 1988, he ran again, establishing himself as the front runner after handily winning the important Michigan primary and finished by more than doubling his previous vote total and securing 11 states.

And then he was gone, disappearing from Democratic Party politics, leaving neither a movement nor a political impact on the Party's destiny. By 1992, the Party had moved permanently rightward to embrace right-centrist, Bill Clinton. And twenty-five years later, the progressive wing of the Party waits hopefully and patiently for another celebrity arriving fully armored and on a powerful steed!

Similarly, the Nader Presidential campaigns brought great interest to the Green Party. But the ever-earnest Ralph Nader had little interest in party-building. Though serious, he walked away, leaving others to attempt to construct an on-going political party from the good will left from his runs. Fortunately, the Green Party's latest candidate, Jill Stein, has a more developed understanding of political theory. What she lacks in celebrity status, she more than makes up for with organizational savvy and historical perspective. Her innovative, clever development of the “shadow” cabinet concept is particularly impressive.

But it's not solely the fault of Jackson and Nader--two well-meaning candidates-- that these celebrity campaigns were comet-like. Rather, it is the naïveté of the left that failed to see beyond the immediacy of these political events, that felt no urgency to subordinate an unrealistic chance to actually win to the necessity of leaving something permanent upon which to build.

Behind the Knight in Shining Armor syndrome stands the Great Man (or Woman) theory of history: great events are the work of great personalities. For example, the Pharaohs built the Great Pyramids (All by themselves? to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht). The masses are merely the obliging instruments of superior minds and talented leaders. Lenin refers to this thinking as in the “Ilovaisky manner,” referring to the author of many Russian textbooks who saw Russian history solely as the work of czars and generals.

The political expression of this in Lenin's Russia came from the Norodniks who saw themselves as the saviors of the peasants. Middle class intellectuals impressed with their own superior abilities, the Norodniks “colonized” peasant society in order to surgically implant the great leaders they felt the peasantry lacked. In the words of Soviet writer V.P. Filatov, they believed “that only 'heroes' made history” and that they could turn “the mob into the people.”

Adding the 'Conscious Element'

Lenin's writings demonstrate that there is nothing new or unique in the false ideology of spontaneity. Further, we can learn from Lenin's conclusion: “[A]ll worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of 'the conscious element',... means quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers...” (What is to be Done?) In other words, only attention to the “conscious element” can advance our cause beyond the false path of spontaneity.

But what does Lenin mean by the “conscious element”?

Going forward depends upon a correct assessment of what constrains our progress. It requires a consciousness of the ideas essential to successfully challenge power. It requires an ideology. Moreover, that ideology must be radically different from the ideology of the forces resisting change. Nor can it compromise with the enemy ideology. Thus, it is a revolutionary consciousness.

But revolutionary consciousness must be converted into massrevolutionary consciousness. For that we need an organization. Because its mission is to take the ideology of revolutionary change to those both most in need of it and most able to use it, that organization counts as a vanguard. It is the idea of a vanguard that allows us to advance beyond the illusion of spontaneity.

Opponents of Leninism charge the idea of a vanguard with elitism, the idea that a select group of revolutionaries knows better than the masses. It is nothing of the sort. Rather, a vanguard is the transmission belt for ideas that will not and cannot arise spontaneously within the working class or broader movement.

In our time, the ideology of resistance is decidedly and necessarilyanti-capitalist. But that is not enough. A revolutionary ideology must offer an alternative to capitalism, an alternative that is neither cosmetic nor fanciful. That alternative is socialism.

Popular illusions abound: regulation can wean corporations from rapacious accumulation and dominance; small-scale “social” enterprises and cooperatives can erode the unprecedented political and economic power of monopoly enterprises. Such ideas fall far short of ideological credibility. Only socialism—the elimination of the process of private accumulation through labor exploitation-- reaches that credibility.

And who is to deliver the message of socialism; i.e., who is to serve as missionary for the revolutionary ideology?

The answer is as it was in Lenin's time: An organization dedicated to that task above all else; an organization not encumbered by the fetish of bourgeois elections; a party of revolutionaries; a Communist Party.

Zoltan Zigedy

America’s Real Subversives — The FBI and NSA, Spying on the Public

As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington approaches, commemorating that historic gathering where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, it is important to recall the extent to which King was targeted by the government's domestic spying apparatus.

How Noam Chomsky Is Discussed

One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed "crazy", as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually "crazy" are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge).Noam Chomsky, delivering the Edward W. Said lecture in London on 18 March 2013. (Photograph: guardian.co.uk)

This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions. Nixon White House officials sought to steal the files from Daniel Ellsberg's psychoanalyst's office precisely because they knew they could best discredit his disclosures with irrelevant attacks on his psyche. Identically, the New York Times and partisan Obama supporters have led the way in depicting both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as mentally unstable outcasts with serious personality deficiencies. The lesson is clear: only someone plagued by mental afflictions would take such extreme steps to subvert the power of the US government.

A subtler version of this technique is to attack the so-called "style" of the critic as a means of impugning, really avoiding, the substance of the critique. Although Paul Krugman is comfortably within mainstream political thought as a loyal Democrat and a New York Times columnist, his relentless attacks against the austerity mindset is threatening to many. As a result, he is barraged with endless, substance-free complaints about his "tone": he is too abrasive, he does not treat opponents with respect, he demonizes those who disagree with him, etc. The complaints are usually devoid of specifics to prevent meaningful refutation: one typical example: "[Krugman] often cloaks his claims in professional authority, overstates them, omits arguments that undermine his case, and is a bit of a bully"). All of that enables the substance of the critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.

Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky. The book on which I'm currently working explores how establishment media systems restrict the range of acceptable debate in US political discourse, and I'm using Chomsky's treatment by (and ultimate exclusion from) establishment US media outlets as a window for understanding how that works. As a result, I've read a huge quantity of media discussions about Chomsky over the past year. And what is so striking is that virtually every mainstream profile or discussion of him at some point inevitably recites the same set of personality and stylistic attacks designed to malign his advocacy without having to do the work to engage the substance of his claims. Notably, these attacks come most frequently and viciously from establishment liberal venues, such as when the American Prospect's 2005 foreign policy issue compared him to Dick Cheney on its cover (a cover he had framed and now proudly hangs on his office wall).

Last week, Chomsky was in London to give the annual Edward W. Said lecture, and as always happens when he speaks, the large auditorium was filled to the brim, having sold out shortly after it was announced. The Guardian's Aida Edemariam interviewed him in London and produced an article, published Saturday morning, that features virtually all of those standard stylistic and personality critiques:

"When he starts speaking, it is in a monotone that makes no particular rhetorical claim on the audience's attention; in fact, it's almost soporific . . . . Within five minutes many of the hallmarks of Chomsky's political writing, and speaking, are displayed: his anger, his extraordinary range of reference and experience . . . . . Fact upon fact upon fact, but also a withering, sweeping sarcasm – the atrocities are 'tolerated politely by Europe as usual'. Harsh, vivid phrases – the 'hideously charred corpses of murdered infants'; bodies 'writhing in agony' – unspool until they become almost a form of punctuation.

"You could argue that the latter is necessary, simply a description of atrocities that must be reported, but it is also a method that has diminishing returns. The facts speak for themselves; the adjectives and the sarcasm have the counterintuitive effect of cheapening them, of imposing on the world a disappointingly crude and simplistic argument. 'The sentences,' wrote Larissa MacFarquhar in a brilliant New Yorker profile of Chomsky 10 years ago, 'are accusations of guilt, but not from a position of innocence or hope for something better: Chomsky's sarcasm is the scowl of a fallen world, the sneer of hell's veteran to its appalled naifs' – and thus, in an odd way, static and ungenerative. . . .

"But he answers questions warmly, and seriously, if not always directly – a surprise, in a way, from someone who has earned a reputation for brutality of argument, and a need to win at all costs. 'There really is an alpha-male dominance psychology at work there,' a colleague once said of him. 'He has some of the primate dominance moves. The staring down. The withering tone of voice." Students have been known to visit him in pairs, so that one can defend the other. . . .

"Chomsky, the son of Hebrew teachers who emigrated from Ukraine and Russia at the turn of the last century, began as a Zionist – but the sort of Zionist who wanted a socialist state in which Jews and Arabs worked together as equals. Since then he has been accused of antisemitism (due to defending the right to free speech of a French professor who espoused such views, some 35 years ago), and been called, by the Nation, 'America's most prominent self-hating Jew'. These days he argues tirelessly for the rights of Palestinians. . . . . Does he think that in all these years of talking and arguing and writing, he has ever changed one specific thing?"

So to recap: Chomsky is a sarcastic, angry, soporific, scowling, sneering self-hating Jew, devoid of hope and speaking from hell, whose alpha-male brutality drives him to win at all costs, and who imposes on the world disappointingly crude and simplistic arguments to the point where he is so inconsequential that one wonders whether he has ever changed even a single thing in his 60 years of political work.

Edemariam includes several other passages more balanced and even complimentary. She notes his academic accolades ("One study of the most frequently cited academic sources of all time found that he ranked eighth, just below Plato and Freud"), his mastery of facts, his willingness to speak to hostile audiences, his touching life-long relationship with his now-deceased wife, and his remarkable commitment, even at the age of 84, to personally answering emails from people around the world whom he does not know (when I spoke at a college near Rochester two weeks ago, one of the students, a college senior studying to be a high school social studies teacher, gushed as he told me that he had emailed Chomsky and quickly received a very generous personal reply). She also includes Chomsky's answer to her question about whether he has ever changed anything: a characteristically humble explanation that no one person - not even Martin Luther King - can or ever has by themselves changed anything.

But the entire piece is infused with these standard personality caricatures that offer the reader an easy means of mocking, deriding and scorning Chomsky without having to confront a single fact he presents. And that's the point: as this 9-minute Guardian excerpt about Iran and the Middle East from Chomsky's London speech demonstrates, he rationally but aggressively debunks destructive mainstream falsehoods that huge numbers of people are taught to tacitly embrace. But all of that can be, and is, ignored in favor of hating his "style", ridiculing his personality, and smearing him with horrible slurs ("self-hating Jew").

What's particularly strange about this set of personality and style attacks is what little relationship they bear to reality. Far from being some sort of brutal, domineering, and angry "alpha-male" savage, Chomsky - no matter your views of him - is one of the most soft-spoken and unfailingly civil and polite political advocates on the planet. It's true that his critiques of those who wield power and influence can be withering - that's the central function of an effective critic or just a human being with a conscience - but one would be hard-pressed to find someone as prominent as he who is as steadfastly polite and considerate and eager to listen when it comes to interacting with those who are powerless and voiceless. His humanism is legion. And far from being devoid of hope, it's almost impossible to find an establishment critic more passionate and animated when talking about the ability of people to join together to create real social and political change.

Then there's Edemariam's statement, offered with no citation, that Chomsky has been called "America's most prominent self-hating Jew" by the left-wing Nation magazine. This claim, though often repeated and obviously very serious, is inaccurate.

The Nation article which she seems to be referencing is not available online except by subscription. But what is freely available online is a 1993 article on Chomsky from the Chicago Tribune that makes clear that this did not come from the Nation itself, but from a single writer who, more importantly, was not himself calling Chomsky a "self-hating" Jew but was simply noting that this is how he is often attacked ("one critic observed that Chomsky has 'acquired the reputation as America's most prominent self-hating Jew.'"). In 2010, the scholarly website 3 Quarks Daily noted an article on Chomsky from The Telegraph that also claimed without citation that "the Left-wing Nation magazine, meanwhile, called him 'America's most prominent self-hating Jew'". Inquiries in the comment section for the source citation for this quote prompted this reply:

"I know this is a few years old, but the citation for the 'most prominent self-hating Jew' quote is: Morton, Brian. 'Chomsky Then and Now.' Nation 246, no. 18 (May 7, 1988): 646-652.

"With access to a full-text archive of The Nation, it took me only a few minutes to locate this. The full quote in context is 'If Chomsky has acquired the reputation of being America's most prominent self-hating Jew, this is because, in the United States, discussion about the Middle East has until recently taken place within very narrow bounds.'

"As you can see the point was quite the opposite of how it was presented. The Nation often includes different perspectives so attributing one reviewer's comment to 'The Nation' as a whole would be dishonest anyway.

"Regardless of that however, the reviewer was actually making the point that Chomsky's views only seem far out because the spectrum is so limited. . . . .This is just another example of the kind of lazy, dishonest way in which Chomsky's views are generally reported."

Having myself retrieved a full copy of Morton's 1988 article, I can say with certainty that that comment is indeed 100% accurate. It is wildly inaccurate to claim that the Nation labelled Chomsky a "self-hating Jew":

morton chomsky

The oft-repeated claim that Chomsky has "been called, by the Nation,
'America's most prominent self-hating Jew'" is simply false. If anything, that Nation article, written by someone not on the Nation staff, debunked that accusation, and certainly did not embrace it.

But the strangest attack on Chomsky is the insinuation that he has changed nothing. Aside from the metrics demonstrating that he has more reach and influence than virtually any public intellectual on the planet, some of which Edemariam cites, I'd say that there is no living political writer who has more radically changed how more people think in more parts of the world about political issues than he. If you accept the premise (as I do) that the key to political change is to convince people of pervasive injustice and the need to act, then it's virtually laughable to depict him as inconsequential. Washington power-brokers and their media courtiers do not discuss him, and he does not make frequent (or any) appearances on US cable news outlets, but outside of those narrow and insular corridors - meaning around the world - few if any political thinkers are as well-known, influential or admired (to its credit, the Guardian, like some US liberal outlets, does periodically publish Chomsky's essays).

Like any person with a significant political platform, Chomsky is fair game for all sorts of criticisms. Like anyone else, he should be subjected to intense critical and adversarial scrutiny. Even admirers should listen to his (and everyone else's) pronouncements with a critical ear. Like anyone who makes prolific political arguments over the course of many years, he's made mistakes.

But what is at play here is this destructive dynamic that the more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more personalized, style-focused and substance-free the attacks become. That's because once someone become sufficiently critical of establishment pieties, the goal is not merely to dispute their claims but to silence them. That's accomplished by demonizing the person to the extent that huge numbers of people decide that nothing they say should even be considered, let alone accepted. It's a sorry and anti-intellectual tactic, to be sure, but a brutally effective one.

Rosa Parks Syndrome in Palestine

The same week President Obama honored Rosa Parks Parks’ 100th birthday, Israel announced two newly segregated bus lines for Palestinian workers traveling to Israel from the West Bank. The “Palestinian only” buses were introduced after Israeli settlers complained that fellow Palestinian passengers posed a “security risk.”

The timing of Israel’s announcement set the internet abuzz with moralizing references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Jim Crow. If only Palestinians could produce their own Rosa Parks. More sophisticated Palestine analysts observed that for Palestinians, segregation is already routine. Israeli society functions thanks to a complex web of segregated highways, neighborhoods, and educational institutions. Potential Palestinian “Martin Luther King Jr.’s”cycle in and out of Israeli jails.

Of course, President Obama avoids Jim Crow/Israel analogies. His administration continues to oppose international efforts to recognize Palestinian self-determination and the itinerary for Obama’s upcoming Israel trip resembles a POTUS version of Birthright. His first activity is a photo op with missile battery. Obviously, a spell of liberal indignation over bus segregation and a brief flurry of Rosa Park’s references will not translate into US policies shifts on Israel/Palestine. But in this faux-outrage, there is something valuable to be learned about the shortcomings of liberalism and its failure to fully comprehend both the plight of Palestinians and America’s own history of racial oppression.

As Samir Sonti pointed out in Jacobin last week, contemporary liberals sanitize the movement for black liberation as a fundamentally individual struggle for “civil rights,” stripped of its working class roots, revolutionary goals, and strong ties to organized labor.

For liberals, racial oppression is an uncomfortable concept because it lays the blame for inequality at the feet of society at large and implicates the very legitimacy of liberal institutions. For that reason, Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered more for his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott — with its modest goals of bus integration — than for his Poor People’s Campaign and his deeper indictment of American society.

Liberals who generally support Israel, but find themselves cringing when Israeli politicians make racist remarks, seize on incidents like Israeli bus segregation because it packages the conflict in digestible terms. This impulse does signal some empathy for the Palestinian plight. But it also smacks of triumphalism. Realizing African American civil rights, we are told, is the landmark achievement of 20th century liberalism — a hard but necessary journey. When we chastise Israel for segregating buses there is a clear subtext: America has come so far from the days of Jim Crow and our little sibling in the Middle East has some catching up to do.

But Palestinians know that bus segregation is merely a cosmetic feature of their oppression. Commuter discrimination amounts to a red herring. The separate buses are only significant for how they reflect on the general ideological predicament of Israeli society. In fact, many of the Palestinian workers who actually ride the buses welcome the segregation. The new routes are more direct and save the Palestinians from having to endure harassment from settlers.

The perspectives of Palestinian laborers fail to register with liberals, who are desperate to recast Palestinian oppression as an individualistic struggle for civil rights. For them, Palestinian oppression is comfortably framed as “inequality before the law,” a condition easily remedied by extending the largess of the Jewish state. This limited understanding works to reinforce the primacy of Israel — its courts, government, and military — as flawed but ultimately legitimate liberal institutions capable of reform.

If the problem is primarily a problem of civil rights, an issue of inequality rather than oppression, then the solution must be new laws, better courts ,and more sensitive politicians. This is a very comfortable position for liberals because it forecloses far reaching criticism of Israeli society at large and quashes difficult questions about the very foundation of that state.

By sidestepping the question of oppression and dismissing the potential for restructuring Israeli society, liberals do not pause to consider the claims of Palestinians. The age-old Palestinian demand for the “right of return” is considered inconceivable because it would undermine the very nature of the Jewish state. Palestinians are encouraged to set aside their historic grievances and embrace the existing “facts on the ground.” The liberal view holds that by working within the system Palestinians can overcome inequality. It does not leave much room for, in MLK’s words, “radically restructuring society itself.”

The same tendency infects the liberal civil rights mythos. In the push for a color blind society, any system-wide attempts to reach equal racial outcomes are cast outside the mainstream. The ultimate watchdog of American liberalism, the U.S. Supreme Court, is poised to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, one of the lone vestiges of a transformative approach to racial equality. For liberals, contemporary racism is the fault of a few bad apples and any push to fundamentally alter the distribution of resources is considered in poor taste.

Rosa Parks is cast as an ordinary woman, fed up with the indignity of her commute, rather than a lifelong activist with revolutionary aspirations and ties to the American Communist Party. Thus, the sanitized perception of Rosa Parks enables people like Mitch McConnell to bask in the achievement of civil rights alongside President Obama.

As liberalism fails to offer compelling solutions to racial inequality, a growing chorus of voices on the Left are shining a light on persistent Jim Crow-like segregation in American society. Under the “New Jim Crow” one in three black men are destined to go to prison and blacks are ten times more likely than whites to be incarcerated for drug crimes.

Critical race theorists like Charles Lawrence III have long anticipated this reconfiguration of racial castes. Lawrence III warned that the dominant individualistic understanding of racial inequality would prove inadequate to reverse centuries of oppression: “Racial equality [should be seen] as a substantive societal condition rather than as an individual right.” Yet radical solutions to persistent racial inequality — more aggressive affirmative action, slavery reparations, dismantling the criminal justice system as we know it, legalizing drugs that are the overwhelming cause of black incarceration — all fall beyond the purview of liberal criticism.

Liberals bring this same limited scope to their understanding of Israel/Palestine and their range of solutions for the conflict exposes grave ideological contradictions. Of course, Palestinians deserve equal rights, liberals proclaim, but fundamental questions about the very nature of Israel and its foundation remain taboo. Those who oppose the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state are quickly labeled anti-semites.

Liberals balk at racism within Israeli society but the roots of that racism go unexamined. Religion and State should be kept separate, say the liberals, but theocratic and overtly racist Israeli political parties continue to grow. For the foreseeable future Israeli politics will increasingly ruffle liberal sensibilities, but the liberal frame will continue to view Palestinian oppression as an understandable, if regrettable, blip in Israel’s democratic journey.

The Long Hot Summer of 2013

I spent a couple of nights last week on the lookout for a cloud of rising smoke. From the chimney at the Vatican? No, thank you -- there were already thousands of journalists around the globe fixated on the ancient mystical wizardry in St. Peter's Square. I was a lot more concerned that black smoke was going to rise from the damp, raw streets of East Flatbush, in a corner of Brooklyn many blocks removed from the high-tech glitz of that borough's new Barclays Center. Night after night, hundreds of young people -- most from the neighborhood -- marched on their local police station house because they wanted answers to a simple question.

Why was a 16-year-old boy named Kimani Gray shot seven times by the New York cops -- three times in the back?

Of course, I had to follow the waves of Brooklyn protest -- which teetered for a time on the brink of a riot -- by way of Twitter, since the mainstream media gave very slight, and usually belated, coverage to the doings in East Flatbush. I guess issues of law and order, civil rights and civil unrest, and the right to assemble on a major street right here in the United States can't really compete with the nearly 2000-year-old rituals of wrinkled men with their bright robes and their white smoke.

Still, I couldn't help but think that -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- there's something happening here. Maybe it was because East Flatbush wasn't the only place in America where unusual things were taking place -- the scattered shrieks of regular people who've been pushed to the edge. As the protests in Brooklyn dragged on, I heard the annual budget speech from the mayor of Philadelphia drowned out and finally shut down by the voice of angry blue-collar municipal workers, frustrated that City Hall will no longer listen to them. Just a couple of weeks ago and about 10 blocks away, so many Philly teens, parents and teachers were so upset at the knee-jerk closing of 23 neighborhood public schools that they filled the expanse of Broad Street as they tried to flood the room where the vote was taking place.

There were 19 people arrested at the Philly school shutdown; about 45 arrested in various encounters and scuffles with the NYPD in Brooklyn. All of these events were treated by the media as a total out-of-left-field shock -- as if a spaceship had landed from Mars and deposited these mad-as-hell aliens on the hardscrabble streets of the inner city. And if you haven't been paying attention, you'd indeed think these scattered events had nothing to do with each other. But to the contrary, the same river of bruised blood runs through all of them -- people who are at long last tired of the drumbeat of disrespect.

grayriot.jpg

Yes, there's the daily harassment of stop-and-frisk, the yearly push for just one more wage cut or pension givebacks even as CEO pay -- and that of top governmental aides -- never seems to stop going up, or thebillionaire-funded death of the dream of educational opportunity for all. But the real reason we're at the snapping point is even more simple than that.

It keeps coming back to a famous quote that I saw pinging around the Internet a lot last week after it was repeated by the city councilman for East Flatbush, Jumanne Williams, at a hearing. It was uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King in a famous address known as "The Other America" speech. He delivered it a couple of times, including outside of Detroit just months after that city had erupted in flames. The civil rights leader re-affirmed his lifelong commitment to non-violent solutions, but he added this:

I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.

Dr. King was murdered exactly three weeks to the day later.

Flash forward 45 years later, and there are many conditions in American society that need to be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots, arguably more than there were in Dr. King's time -- obscene income inequalitystagnant wages, record levels of long-term unemployment, a diminished watchdog media, failing urban schools, militarized police departments and civil rights abuses from rampant spying to a crackdown on public-serving whistleblowers to targeted assassinations.

It's reached the point where people are straining to be heard over the drone of our all-encompassingkleptocracy. It almost broke loose once, in 2011, with the realization that both political parties were selling out the middle-class in a phony debt crisis, and then the world was stunned by the out-of-nowhere Occupy movement -- thousands of unheard struggling to find their own language. That movement faltered for a variety of reasons, including the risen-again hope that democracy in 2012 could redress the people's grievances.

I think those hopes may have crossed a Rubicon, then crashed and burned for good earlier this month when the Dow Jones hit an all-time record, corporate profits swelled -- and not a dime of it trickled down to the American worker, who has watched nearly every dollar of income growth in recent years accumulate to the 1 Percent.

Into this tinderbox walked the 16-year-old Brooklyn kid named Kimani Gray. Those seven police gunshots later, his short life was over. The naysayers were quick to point to Kimani's flirtation with the gangs of East Flatbush and several arrests, and the allegation by police -- fiercely disputed by eyewitnesses -- that he had a gun and pointed it at the plainclothes officers, to dismiss both the value of his life and the cries of the protesters.  But the community deserves answers that it's not getting about what really happened 10 nights ago, as well as the dubious track record of the officers involved.

And New York City officials are doing everyone a huge disservice when they pretend that this is about one kid, and not the daily beatdown of disrespect from programs like stop-and-frisk, which has made it difficult for thousands of young, law-abiding blacks and Latinos to walk down a sidewalk without having to justify their very existence. Today, the courts in the nation's largest city are dealing with a massive class-action lawsuitover the alleged abuses of this policy.

The bottom line is, if it wasn't Kimani Gray, it would have been somebody else.

But no one ever sees it coming. That was the case in Philadelphia, suffering from years of benign and sometimes not-so-benign neglect of public schools and a multi-million-dollar push from the usual suspect of hedge funders, profit-seekers and  to boost charter schools and destroy public education as we know it. The co-conspirators tried (and largely succeeded) to rush through a large-scale scale shutdown of neighborhood schools, but the people formerly known as the unheard did raise of a hell of a ruckus. And they're probably just getting started.

These things don't happen in a vacuum. At the height of the schools crisis, someone emailed me a remarkable document that had been prepared by the Broad Foundation of billionaire Los Angeles "do-gooder" Eli Broad, who wages war on inner-city public education even as his foundation, not so ironically, has trained most of our top urban superintendents.(Now Broad wants to take over the L.A. Times, too -- God help us.) It's an 83-page guide "School Closure Guide" that was published in 2009 to guide presumably Broad-trained superintendents on a step by step method to implement mass closures of public schools in already distressed communities -- exactly what's happening now in Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere.

But Broad's minions must act quickly and smartly...before the voices of the unheard become too loud.

But here's the thing: Unheard voices are like water -- they are going to find the path of least resistance. Unless our leaders finally start listening, a trickle in Brooklyn, a leak in Philly, and suddenly there's a full-blown flood. (If you don't understand the oceanography, ask the folks down in New Orleans, another battered American community.)

When we look back on the long hot summer of 2013, and we will, I pray that we'll think of it as a few balmy days on a beach or in the mountains with family and friends after a season of coming together, of finally tackling our root problems from rising inequality to falling civil liberties.

But I worry terribly that it will be the other kind.

Will Bunch is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and senior political writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He blogs at Attytood.com.

80th Anniversary of Roosevelt and the New Deal

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

March 4 will be the 80th anniversary of the inaugural speech of Franklin Roosevelt becoming president of the United States. Here's a little clip of what he said.

~~~

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, U.S. PRESIDENT: I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom I shall seek within my constitutional authority to bring to speedy adoption.

~~~

JAY: Now joining us to talk about the significance of Roosevelt's New Deal and what it means for today is, first of all, Jennifer Taub. She's an associate law professor at Vermont Law School. Before joining the VLS, she taught at the Isenberg School of Management and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

And also joining us, from London, is John Weeks. He's a professor emeritus at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and author of the recently released book The Economics of the 1 Percent: 1 Percent Economics, 99 Percent Ideology. And he writes at JWeeks.org.

Thank you both for joining us.

So, John, before we kind of get into sort of comparison of today to then, give us some broad strokes of what was the significant decisions of Roosevelt and the New Deal.

JOHN WEEKS, PROF. EMERITUS, SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES: Let me begin by telling a story. When my mother died, I went to pick up the woman who—to take her to the funeral—who had done our cleaning for us. And I remember I went into her house. I'd never been in her house. She was African-American. Those were still the dark days of the end of segregation. [crosstalk]

JAY: And this is in Texas, right? This is taking place in Texas?

WEEKS: Yeah, this was in Texas. Right. There were two photographs on the wall. One of them was Martin Luther King, and the other was Franklin D. Roosevelt. And so I understood why Martin Luther King was there, but I said to her, why is Franklin D. Roosevelt there? I didn't know he did much for—we called them black people in those days. And she said, "Saved our farm."

And I think that there are a lot of—for all of Roosevelt's drawbacks, there were many—I mean, there were—millions and millions of Americans loved him because they thought he had saved their farms, their houses, their lives, their health, and so on. And it's difficult, I think, for people now to realize how strongly the vast majority of Americans felt, you know, felt very deeply about Roosevelt.

JAY: Jennifer, for our younger viewers, contextualize this a little bit. He's elected in '32, inaugurated in '33. What did that period look like?

JENNIFER TAUB, ASSOC. PROF., VERMONT LAW SCHOOL: It was a really difficult period. The Depression had been under way for a while. If you remember, the great crash of the stock market was in October 1929. So by the time Roosevelt took office, there was massive unemployment. People were scavenging in dumpsters looking for food to eat. There were tremendous foreclosures and great amounts of unemployment. And so what—the country was quite desperate and very frustrated with Herbert Hoover, who was the outgoing president. So Roosevelt presented a tremendous hope, and he really did live up to people's hopes.

JAY: John, when Roosevelt actually ran for office, my understanding is he actually ran on a platform of budget cuts. And Hoover was actually—.

WEEKS: He ran on a balanced budget. One of his criticisms of Hoover was that Hoover had overseen a deficit.

I think there's no doubt that Roosevelt was an opportunist. Give me more opportunists like that. I mean, he came into power. He realized that something very drastic had to be done and had to be done quickly. He tried different things. He had some of the things [incompr.] struck down by a reactionary Supreme Court, which Jennifer can probably comment on more than I can. Then he tried different things.

And I think that he was a person that for some reason or other rose above his class—or dropped below his class (he was one of the wealthiest men in the United States) to recognize the plight of Americans. I mean, there were—like, there are so many quotes, but let me just give one. Roosevelt said the test of our civilization is not if we build a larger economy; it's whether or not we build for the poorest in society.

JAY: But how much of that was rhetoric? I mean, wasn't Roosevelt essentially doing whatever possibly could be done to maintain capitalism in the United States and very afraid of any move towards socialism? There was a real—there certainly was a workers movement. The union movement was gaining some strength. The Soviet Union, whether it was true or not, certainly held out the promise of an entirely different system. I mean, wasn't Roosevelt doing what had to be done to save capitalism?

WEEKS: What I think is that—did Roosevelt save capitalism? Maybe he did. But is that a criticism? I would say that there were many people at that time who did not want Roosevelt elected and wanted to continue with the policies which Jennifer has described, which Hoover had pursued. And indeed, in 1933, soon after Roosevelt was inaugurated, there was a cabal, a plot to try to remove him by the most reactionary elements of financiers in the United States, and it was exposed by the Marine Corps general who they approached to be the head of this coup. So, yes, Roosevelt saved capitalism. But I think that's a criticism only if you think that the only way that—where he should have gone is socialism. I don't think that was really in the cards.

JAY: Well, Jennifer, I guess part of that question is is: did Roosevelt's policies even actually really save capitalism? There's an argument that it mitigated the crisis some, but it wasn't till the massive government expenditure in World War II that you really had the end of the Depression.

TAUB: I mean, that's true. But I want to return to what you mentioned earlier about what was happening in Europe with the authoritarian regimes in Russia and in Germany. And I think that if you look back at the news and the historical record, that was very much on people's minds. So I believe that Roosevelt didn't just, as you say, save capitalism, but also saved democracy, at least for a while.

What he put in place was quite different to what Bush II did in the fall of 2008. When Bush II began the rescue, it was a rescue of the financial system and it was a recovery—it was, again, a recovery of the financial system with very much of a top-down let's keep things in place and let's try to restore confidence in the existing banking structure and the financial market players.

In contrast, Roosevelt understood that that wasn't going to work, and so he did a bottom-up type of rescue. And this included things like establishing the Works Administration, where over 3 million people were given jobs, you know, fixing infrastructure and the like. And so he literally had the federal government, through an executive order, getting people back to work.

He also established the HOLC, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, which was in response to what Hoover tried to do, which was more of a top-down, setting up regional banks to help out the savings banks. Instead, Roosevelt realized none of those were rescuing people from the bottom up, and ended up preventing many foreclosures.

And so I think that what Roosevelt was trying to do was a move of saying the federal government was going to try to help shore up the economy, begin to regulate securities, take a closer look at banking by separating investment banking from commercial banking. He was going to step in and take a lot of authority, but it wasn't just top-down authority; it was also bottom-up support, rescue, and recovery for the people. And that gave the federal government more legitimacy in what it was doing than I think where we are today.

And why there might be resistance to federal spending when we desperately need it is because the memory of the Bush 2008 and then early Obama 2009 bailouts of the banks without reciprocity for homeowners is still fresh in people's minds.

JAY: Right. John, what are some other examples of Roosevelt legislation or acts that you think one could learn from?

WEEKS: I would mention a couple of things. One thing: before I mention anything else, I think that you have to stress Roosevelt's advisers. Jennifer referred to this. But some of them were very progressive indeed, much more progressive than Roosevelt. And the one that I mentioned, the first woman cabinet member, Frances Perkins, who was the secretary of labor, who was a very, very progressive person and should be celebrated by Americans as I'm doing now—but I would mention two very important things that Roosevelt did in addition to all of those work creation schemes, which Frances Perkins was deeply involved in. One was we can thank the Glass–Steagall Act—actually, it's—formally is the Banking Act of 1933. For 40 years when we did not have a financial crisis, that is, from 1933 until nineteen—well, 50 years, I should say—1983, there was no financial crisis. We got—the first big financial crisis we got was the savings and loan, and that was a direct result of a law being passed amending the Banking Act of 1933 that—allowing savings and loans to do things they should not have done, which you know because a quarter of them went bust. That's one thing. The other thing is establishing the principle that when the private sector demand is inadequate, the federal government should step in and make up for that demand. So those two principles—one, that finance must be regulated, and two, that the federal government must provide a economic boost when the economy is lagging.

JAY: And there was also legislation passed that on the face of it, at least, was supposed to make it easier for unions to operate. Jennifer, talk a bit about that.

TAUB: Yes. I mean, Roosevelt—and some of this was protected and some of it was struck down, but the ability for the American labor movement to grow depended upon the ability to organize with protection and without fear of retaliation. And that was—we can thank Roosevelt for that.

I want to also mention, since—touch on some things John said, and add a few others. One new thing is Roosevelt—we can look back and thank Roosevelt for the existence of unemployment insurance, and also establishing the precursors for our Medicare system, which Americans cherish today, even those who say they don't want big government, right? The funny thing they say is, you know, get your government hands off my Medicare. And we can really thank Roosevelt for that.

One thing John mentioned was the Glass–Steagall act or the Banking Act of 1933. And, again, because of what was put in place in the New Deal, there was an understanding that if banks wanted to have access to the safety nets—and those safety nets were the Federal Reserve lending support (and remember, the Fed was established in 1913, so that's our 100-year anniversary), but also the establishment of deposit insurance, which only came in with the Glass–Steagall Act. Both of these two things didn't just help people in terms of avoiding runs on the banks and what that does to the economy, but it helped banks because they knew that the deposits they brought in were backstopped by the federal government. And by having that backstop or having that safety net, what that meant is it was absolutely essential to make sure that if the government was going to be standing behind these deposits, that someone had to limit what the banks actually did with the deposits. And that was [incompr.] important piece of the fabric.

And as John mentioned, this started getting pulled away right around the time—right prior to the savings and loan crisis. And part of what gets undone isn't just the regulations saying, if you're getting the safety net, you have to avoid certain high-risk practices, but other things got pulled away related to bank size. Right? So there's a whole series of things that start happening in the '70s and '80s and '90s that put in place the growth of finance as an important part of the economy.

JAY: Alright. Well, in the next segment of our interview, we'll pick up the discussion. And just to tease it a little bit, it seems to me after World War II, to a large extent led by the Democratic Party, what begins is a process of undoing the New Deal, and right up until today. But the twist to that is Roosevelt helps hand power to Truman, who—under his administration I think the New Deal starts to get unraveled. And Roosevelt didn't have to do that. So let's talk about that in the next segment of this discussion on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Chicago Voters Said “No” to the NRA in...

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In today's On the News segment: Chicago voters said "no" to the NRA in a special primary election yesterday; as Obama dedicated a new statue honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks in Washington, the fight for civil rights continues; Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was blatantly dishonest about the cost of Obama's health care plan; and more.


TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...

You need to know this. Today in our nation's capital, President Obama dedicated a new statue honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who along with other leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., led the fight to ensure African Americans in our nation were ensured the right to vote. Meanwhile, across the street protesters gathered in front of the US Supreme Court an attorney for Shelby County, Alabama tried to make the case that racial bias is a thing of the past. Section 5 of The Voting Rights Act requires Alabama, and other discriminatory states and counties, to get Justice Department approval before making any changes to their voting laws. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been upheld numerous times, and even expanded under Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. This challenge to the Voting Rights Act is just one of many Republican attempts to undermine our democratic process. And, after the discriminatory ID laws and long lines we saw at the polls in the most recent election, it's clear that we need more protection of our voting rights – not less. We shouldn't remove this requirement in states covered under the law, we should expand it to every state in our nation. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said a half century ago, "we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." We can help make his dream a reality, by eliminating the Republican's power to manipulate our elections. And that means expanding the Voting Rights Act to all 50 states, and putting into law a national right to vote. Let's take control of our democratic process, and remind our leaders that they work for us.

In screwed news... Your elected officials are lying to you. In a Budget Committee Hearing yesterday, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was blatantly dishonest about the cost of Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce the deficit by billions over 10 years, but Sen. Sessions says a new GAO report shows the healthcare law will actually increase long-term debt by $6.2 trillion. That's the claim he made yesterday, saying, "The results of this report confirm everything critics and Republicans have been saying about the health care bill." How'd his so-called cost report determine this huge cost increase, when all other government assessments show otherwise? Well, he just told the GAO to take all cost containment provisions out of the calculations. So Jeff Session's special report removes the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the excise tax on high-cost plans, and reductions in Medicare payments to providers, to compile what he calls a "realistic set of assumptions." Right. The only thing real about Senator Jeff Session's new report is that it's really, really dishonest.

In the best of the rest of the news...

Chicago voters said "no" to the NRA, and "yes" to Robin Kelly. In a special primary election yesterday, Robin Kelly clinched her party's nomination for Representative Jesse Jackson Jr's House seat. It was the first Congressional race since the Newtown massacre, and it was the first time voters rejected the NRA. Ms. Kelly ran against Debbie Halvorson, a former House member, who has an "A" rating from the NRA, and has previously opposed an assault weapons ban. Thanks to a $2 million ad campaign from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC, Ms. Halvorson had to defend her pro-gun positions in one of our nation's most crime-ridden cities. This is a major victory for gun control advocates, and a warning to future candidates that refuse to stand up to the NRA. Given Illinois Second Congressional District's political make up, it's likely Robin Kelly will win the general election on April 9. Soon, we'll have one more Congressperson who's willing to stand up to the gun lobby, and fight for commonsense gun control in our nation.

On Tuesday, the Senate finally voted to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. After a nearly two week delay, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid chastised Republicans for their political games, saying, "Politically motivated delays send a terrible signal to allies around the world, that they send a terrible signal to tens of thousands of Americans serving in Afghanistan...For the sake of national security, it's time to set aside this partisanship." And after Republicans made history by filibustering a cabinet appointee, eighteen GOP Senators stood with Democrats to allow an up-or-down vote. The final tally was 58 to 41. Chuck Hagel will take the reins from Leon Panetta, In the face of looming defense cuts in the sequester, he must also focus on the draw-down in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria, and the on-going threat of global terrorists. Next up for confirmation is Obama's nominee for C.I.A. Director, John Brennan. We'll have to wait and see if the Republicans in the Senate will continue their political games, or if they'll confirm Brennan and get to work on our nation's other pressing issues.

And finally... A Florida man was shot and wounded over the weekend, but police say the shooter will walk away without charges. No, it's not another Stand Your Ground case, unless the law applies to shooters that stand on four legs. This gun-toting vigilante was the victim's dog. Gregory Dale Lanier told police that he and his dog were riding in his truck, when the dog kicked a loaded gun, causing it to go off, shooting him in the leg. With a straight face, Police Commander Steve Carr actually said they didn't arrest the dog because an investigation was still pending. You can't make this stuff up. No official NRA statement yet, but we expect Wayne LaPierre will soon tell us that the only way to stop a bad dog with a gun, is a good dog with a gun.

And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, February 27, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.

Rosa Parks: A Life

Rosa Parks: A Life

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Posted on Feb 27, 2013

By Gabriel Thompson

“The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks”
A book by Jeanne Theoharis

In 1960, Jet magazine sent a correspondent to interview Rosa Parks. Five short years had passed since Parks had famously refused to move to the back of the bus, with her arrest triggering a series of events—the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the elevation of Martin Luther King Jr. to the national stage—that would radically reshape the 20th century. But when the Jet reporter caught up with Parks she was living in Detroit, described as a “tattered rag of her former self—penniless, debt-ridden, ailing with stomach ulcers and a throat tumor, compressed into two rooms with her husband and mother.”

If the image is jarring, it is a testament to how little we actually “know” about one of the best-known women of American history. The boycott had been a remarkable victory, but it offered precious little relief for Parks. She had been fired for her activism and was supporting her husband, who had suffered a nervous breakdown and turned to drink under the stress of constant death threats. Though she had sparked the boycott and tirelessly traveled the country to raise funds in support, civil rights leaders in Montgomery, Ala.—unable to consider women equal partners in the struggle—never offered her a job. And so eight months after the city’s bus lines were integrated, Parks and her family, who had called Montgomery home for 25 years, fled to Detroit, never to return.

Such details clang against the conventional narrative of Parks. Applauded today by politicians of all stripes—this alone should arouse considerable suspicion—her life has become a sort of chicken soup for the American soul, a feel-good story that is short on details and heavy on sentimentality. Even the most pertinent fact, her radical and lifelong activism, is discarded in this telling. Instead, Parks is depicted as an apolitical figure approaching sainthood in her purity: humble, quiet and spontaneously moved to take a stand when confronted by a glaring injustice. If anyone has ever needed “extrication from a pile of saccharine tablets and moist hankies,” as Christopher Hitchens memorably remarked about George Orwell, it is Rosa Parks.

Nearly 60 years after the boycott, we now have our first scholarly biography of Parks. “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” written by Brooklyn College professor Jeanne Theoharis, seeks to reveal a character that “continues to be hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children.” Theoharis, who previously studied civil rights activism in the North, dives deep into the archives to return with a nuanced if somewhat plodding portrait of a dedicated activist who managed to be both an iconic figure and an everywoman of the civil rights movement.

To see long excerpts from “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks” at Google Books, click here.

For a biographer, Parks is far from an ideal subject. A collection of her papers has been caught up in a legal fight and is now in the possession of Guernsey’s Auctioneers, where they sit in a Manhattan warehouse. (Unforgivably, the auction house has refused scholarly access to the documents.) There is also Parks’ own sense of decorum, which prevented many of her private feelings from finding public expression. “My problem is—I don’t particularly enjoy talking about anything,” she once admitted. During interviews she tended to carefully choose words and deflect attention, repeating the same stories when asked the same questions. “Finding and hearing Rosa Parks has not been easy,” Theoharis notes. When the book hits dead spots—and there are several—it is usually because the voice of Parks refuses to pop. As a black woman who cut her activist teeth in Alabama in the 1930s, she learned early on to say only what needed to be said. “Is it worthwhile to reveal the intimacies of the past life?” she wrote on a scrap of paper sometime after the boycott. “Would the people be sympathetic or disillusioned when the facts of my life are told?”

The facts of Parks’ political life took shape in a working-class family. Her grandfather was militant in his black pride. Born into slavery and beaten regularly as a child, he quite understandably held a “somewhat belligerent attitude toward whites.” After World War I, when Klan terror intensified, he would sit on the porch with his rifle, waiting almost happily for any invaders. Parks would join him on his vigil—“I wanted to see him kill a Ku Kluxer,” she recalled—but Klansmen were smart enough to stay away.


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America’s Spiritual Death: It’s Time to Learn the Dark History of the U.S....

Stone's TV series, "Untold History of the United States," digs deep into American atrocities the mainstream media doesn't spend much time on.

February 21, 2013  |  

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“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”  --Martin Luther King Jr. “Beyond Vietnam” speech, April 4, 1967

I recently watched all 10 episodes of Oliver Stone's . I strongly recommend it to everyone, but particularly to America's young people who have been robbed of a most precious legacy: an understanding of their true history, and thus their future. I can't think of a more meaningful gift to young people for, as Stone says, “history must be remembered or it will be remembered until the meanings are clear." The same U.S. Executive Branch mentality that produced Vietnam is today illegally and inhumanly murdering and weakening U.S. national security interests throughout the Muslim world, and threatening its own citizens as never before. It has never been more urgent to learn from America’s real history.

I am not ashamed to say this series moved me to tears. First, by its depiction of the millions of lives the U.S. Executive Branch has ruined all over the world. This includes over 21 million -- officially estimated -- killed, wounded and made homeless in Indochina and Iraq alone, bring back the most painful memories of my life: my interviews with over 1,000 Lao refugees who reported seeing beloved parents, spouses and children burned alive, buried alive, and shredded to pieces by years of secret, illegal and inhuman U.S. Executive Branch bombing. [Showtime has made available some of the episodes free to watch over the internet.]

Second, I was touched by the awful beauty of simply seeing the truth told so clearly and vividly. The combination of the information, the imagery and Stone’s narration touched levels far deeper than the mind.

I was most moved by Episode 7, on the war in Indochina, whose closing words below constitute not only an epitaph for the Vietnam War, but for America itself. I thought of Martin Luther King Jr.'s warning as I watched this segment, which chronicles how U.S. leaders waged aggressive war, killing over 3.4 million Vietnamese according to former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and hundreds of thousands more Laotians and Cambodians. The U.S. has never apologized for doing so, let alone cleaned up its tens of millions of unexploded bombs and environmental poisons which continue to kill, wound and deform tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The U.S. has never even contemplated paying the reparations it still owes the Indochinese.

I watched this episode after reading Nick Turse’s monumental new book,  Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, which documents the systematic “industrial-scale” slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops, ordered by top U.S. military officers.

I cannot say that I am surprised that America's political leaders, media and public intellectuals continue to ignore the U.S. Executive's ongoing inhumanity and murder of the innocent -- particularly through its global and spreading drone and ground assassination programs and increasing reliance on the automated warmaking I first saw in Laos 40 years ago. America’s elites are as indifferent to the “mere Muslim Rule” today as they were to the “mere Gook Rule” in Vietnam that Turse so painstakingly documents.

But I am astonished that even those who justify U.S. leaders' actions on the grounds of national security have failed to notice the obvious fact that U.S. warmaking in the 1.8 billion-strong Muslim world is jeopardizing U.S. national security as never before. Just as U.S. backing of the Shah of Iran created a U.S. foreign policy disaster in 1978, the continuation of such policies today will guarantee many more Irans in the future.

Justice

Justice

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Posted on Feb 17, 2013

Pavel Constantin, Cagle Cartoons, Romania

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God Picks a New Pope

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‘Cuz the Bible Tells Me So

We humans constantly are telling ourselves stories about moral and immoral behavior. Many of the most memorable -- if only because of repetition -- are from the Bible. From them we learn about moral courage and cowardice, about wisdom and folly, about when to obey and when to rebel.  And, of course, most Bible stories tell us to believe in God. But God -- He/She/It -- is so many things at once: God is Love, God is Nature, God is Truth. How can I believe in all these things at the same time? I’m more comfortable with each of those declarations about what God  IS when  the formula is reversed. For example, I prefer Nature is God. If that identifies me as a pagan, so be it. But the Bible stories still move me profoundly, especially when I try to apply them to the world around me.  

For instance, remember the story of King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents? Herod, in an attempt to protect his crown from being supplanted by the rumored birth of the King of the Jews, ordered the execution of all male children in Nazareth under the age of two. He cannot identify which child might be Jesus, so he decides to kill them all. We are expected to think about this monstrous crime as the work of a paranoid maniac, which it is. And we may be expected to learn that totalitarian leadership can lead to this sort of barbarity. That is also correct.   

But couldn´t we also interpret Herod´s actions as the use of rational and necessary collateral damage to ensure the continued integrity of the state? If the sanctity of the state is the foremost good, then security has to trump justice and the right to life of any individual. In fact, security then becomes justice. It’s the same political and philosophical excuse used for drone warfare by our government today. If children are killed as a by-product of killing terrorists, then the killing is justified. Herod feared Jesus wanted to overthrow his state. Our government fears the terrorists do. Are all actions that advance the security of the state de facto ethical?  Should our drones be called Herod? (Image: Giotto's 'Massacre of the Innocents')

Take a look at Giotto’s masterful 14th Century fresco of the Massacre of the Innocents.  Above the town square, where his soldiers are lancing and decapitating children, Herod stands calmly giving his orders, pointing out the next victim as calmly as a US president ordering a drone strike. In neither case is any consideration given to law or to morality, or to what we might quaintly call “due process.” We witness the paranoid justice of security.  

What lesson is this behavior meant to teach our children? I am reminded of how Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled in the late 1960s to answer young black men in the ghetto when they asked him why they should not use violence to achieve their rights. They reminded Dr. King that the US government claimed the use of extreme violence in Vietnam as justified and necessary to promote democracy, so why shouldn’t they use the same method to achieve equality at home? King’s only answer was to condemn the war as immoral, a war that was racist, imperialist, and for the benefit of the military-industrial complex at the expense of the poor.  

Another instructive Bible story is the Wisdom of Solomon parable. King Solomon is approached by two women both claiming to be the mother of the same child. How can he know who is telling the truth? DNA tests were still a ways off. So, he suggests a compromise. Compromises are good. He raises his sharp sword intending to slice the baby in half.  

One woman objects and gives up her claim in order to protect the child. Solomon in his wisdom now knows who the mother is and hands her the intact child. 

But our Solomon today is CEO of Terrible Swift Sword, Inc. His “compromise” has a special interest. What an opportunity to demonstrate superior sword performance! This shareholder Solomon asks us to accept the damage done to our children by gun violence, by contamination, by poor education, by fast food, by climate change, by absurd drug laws, by continual war funding, by the necessities of Empire -- on & on -- as “compromises” so that profits may be enhanced and markets expanded. The wisdom of capitalism. The lives of our children are being sliced in half.  

When the rights of money become part of the process of ethical compromise, wisdom is lost. When we allow our justice to be derived from our fears for security, ethics are lost. We are not then wise kings with wise swords, but armed and frightened barbarians with bottom lines. Every would-be Solomon becomes a Herod. 

How do I know this? The Bible tells me so.

Robert Shetterly

Robert Shetterly [send him mail] is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine. He is the author of Americans Who Tell the Truth. See his website.

How Our Machine-Based Way of Life is Not Only Destroying Nature, It Is Also...

In a society with little time for rest, our sense of self is identified with anxiety and accomplishment instead of our true being.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/OtnaYdur

February 12, 2013  |  

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The following is an excerpt from Eros Over Logos: A Revolt of the Instinctual Mind Amidst the Madness of Modern Life.

We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it's all about. —Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

As human beings living in the modern world, we must ask ourselves, “How does our being coexist with all our going?” It‘s an important question because every day we are constantly and simultaneously moving in multiple directions so rapidly that we rarely have the opportunity to connect with the being of our human nature. Being is not the same as doing, and we live in a culture of non-stop acceleration, of continual, frenzied, anxiety and competition-driven, on the go action.

Even our foremost pastimes, the movies, television shows, and sporting events we view—things we do to recover from all our work and busyness—exemplify this glorification of non-stop, nerve-riveting action, of violence, crime, sexual exploits, and destruction.

In this world, there is very little time for rest and relaxation, and when there is time we virtually recoil from it in horror, somehow believing that the moment we cease to act, we also cease to exist. Thus, our most revered and apparent sense of self is identified with anxiety and accomplishment. Many of us tend to resolve this predicament, albeit temporarily, by sedating ourselves with drugs and/or alcohol. When the work day is done the only way many people can change gears or get relaxed is to crack open the bottle or load up the pipe. Our use of mind-altering substances also displays our need to return to the being of our human nature; so why does our normal modern mode of living have to operate in antithesis to it?

By losing regular contact with our underlying non-anxiety driven, non-neurotic, but intrinsically stable, calm, and reflective inner nature, we have ceased to function as, or find fulfillment in, the inherent human being that we are. Indeed, we are becoming increasingly like the programmed devices with which our technological society inundates us, giving the outer impression of vast and dynamic possibilities, but moreover removed from the human heart. Because we lack a true connection with our inner being, we are terrified of being alone or of being at rest; and, paradoxically, through our compulsive obsessions with the frenetic, technology-driven pace of life: we have alienated ourselves from ourselves.

The more we aspire to be in touch with each other via technological devices such as the cell phone, internet, and webcam, the further we stray from the simple human capacity to share space: to talk in person face to face, to be silent, to listen, to breath the same air, to break bread, to live closely together, and to feel the true embodied companionship of those we love, of family, friends, and even strangers. Having quantifiably more contacts in our cell phone, MySpace, or Facebook account is not the same as having more quality relationships that incorporate depth and richness. Sometimes “less is more,” but that‘s something our capitalistic, money-driven society does not easily grasp.

In the modern Western world, powerful personalities are not usually measured as such by their magnitude of loving-kindness or their propensity to inspire the imagination and the human spirit—although figures such as John Lennon and Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly were—but moreover by their capacity to control others, to manipulate the markets and accumulate wealth. In the world of capitalism, the way powerful people relate to things, such as time, or even other people, is not in any way contemplative, reflective or appreciative; it is almost completely manipulative, aimed at molding things to fit in with their goals of how they want the world to be—for them, “time is money.”

Waiter who defended child with Down syndrome funds scholarship

Photo from twitter.com user @sassylassee

Photo from twitter.com user @sassylassee

A Texas waiter who refused to serve a customer that made fun of a child with Down syndrome has used his publicity and unexpected donations to set up a scholarship at a school for special needs children.

Michael Garcia, a 45-year-old waiter at Laurenzo’s restaurant in Houston, has regularly served a family that includes a 5-year-old child with Down syndrome, Milo Castillo. But when another family seated nearby ridiculed the child and moved to a table further away from Castillo, Garcia refused to serve the rude customers. One of the guests had told his family that “special needs kids shoud be kept in special places” – a statement that prompted the waiter to react.

Ever since the story gained significant media publicity last month, Garcia has been receiving letters, unusually high tips, gifts, and unexpected donations from people thanking him for standing up for the boy and potentially putting his job at risk, the Houston Chronicle reports.

And Garcia continues to act selflessly: last Thursday, the waiter took the donations and presented a $1,145 check to the boy’s school, the Rise School of Houston. The preschool offers a special program for children born with Down syndrome and other disabilities, and Garcia’s donation will be used for a scholarship fund.

“When you have something like this with someone who had no reason to be kind – he doesn’t have relatives with special needs, he’s not a teacher – but he did it out of a sense of what was right and from his heart, it gives us hope,” Ashley Kress, development director of the preschool, told the Chronicle. “Like, OK, if Michael can do that then maybe other people in the world can do that, too.”

The boy’s mother, Kim Castillo, continues to express thankfulness for what Garcia did – first by defending her child, and then by giving away the money he received.

“What he’s doing is not only inspirational, but it’s going to hopefully push people to make donations to this amazing, amazing school,” she said.

When Garcia visited the preschool to present the check, he received a paper crown that the students had made for him, adorned with plastic jewels and stickers. A group of preschoolers performed a song in sign language to say thanks to the waiter who they described as a “kind of God” and a “kind of Martin Luther King”.

While Americans have thanked Garcia for his generosity, the man continues to act humbly, claiming that the focus should be on the children – not him.

“The children are the real heroes,” he told Fox News. “I don’t feel like a hero in any way. It’s the children. That’s what this is about, helping the children.”

Garcia said that he will now use his free time to continue raising awareness about special needs children and to work towards a nationwide tolerance for those with disabilities.

Approximately 400,000 Americans suffer from Down syndrome, many of which are discriminated against in the public sphere. From being barred from flying first class to being stared at in public, special needs children and adults are too often treated unkindly.

Connor Long, an 18-year-old Colorado resident who suffers from Down syndrome, wrote an open letter to Garcia, outlining his gratitude for an action that he says is very rare.

“It is unfortunate that the act of a decent, caring, everyday human being willing to do the right thing is so rare,” he wrote in the letter, which was published on the website of the National Down Syndrome Society. “People with special needs don’t need more heroes, we need more everyday people like you who are willing to do and say what is fair and supportive, simply because it is the right thing to do and needs to be done. That is not a special need – it is an ordinary need.”

Barack Obama is Pushing Gun Control at Home, but He’s a Killer Abroad

On 27 January CBS aired an interview with the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama and his outgoing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, during which the president faced accusations that under his watch America had retreated from its key role in world affairs. "The biggest criticism of this team," said the interviewer," has been [that there is] an abdication of the United States on the world stage, sort of reluctance to become involved in another entanglement."

A supporter of Barack Obama's gun control campaign holds up a sign as the president's motorcade passes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)Obama interrupted. "Well, Muammar Gaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment," he said. "Or at least if he was around, he wouldn't agree with that assessment." Quite. Gaddafi, to whom the US authorised $15m worth of arms sales in 2009, is not around because he was murdered by a mob shortly after being sodomised by a bayonet following his ousting by US-led Nato bombardment. In the minutes between the sodomising and the summary execution there just wasn't time to reflect on US foreign policy.

The day after the interview was screened, Obama met with the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and the Major County Sheriffs' Association. The president, fresh from boasting about having Gaddafi "smoked", wanted to discuss how to stop guns getting into the wrong hands, bolster the forces of law and order, and stem violence in US cities.

Over the last few weeks there has been a distinct incongruity – to say the least – between the agenda Obama is promoting at home and the one he defends abroad. His justification for targeted killings and drone strikes in foreign parts, prompted by his nomination of a CIA director, has coincided with his advocacy for stiffer gun control and appeals to respect human life following mass shootings. The result is an administration raising life and death issues in its actions and pronouncements but being unable to talk with any moral authority or ethical consistency on either.

In short, the credibility of a president in challenging lawless social violence in US cities is fundamentally undermined when he has his own personal kill list in violation of international law to terminate enemies elsewhere.

"The diplomatic historian traces foreign affairs as if domestic affairs were offstage disturbances," writes Walter Karp in his book The Politics of War. "The historian of domestic politics treats the explosions of war as if they were offstage disturbances. Were that true, we would have to believe that presidents who faced a mounting sea of troubles at home have nonetheless conducted their foreign policy without the slightest regard for those troubles – that individual presidents were divided into watertight compartments, one labelled 'domestic' and the other 'foreign'."

Yet that is precisely how the Obama administration appears to have compartmentalised its response to violence and its victims. One moment the Obamas are mourning the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who attended his inauguration. She was shot less than a mile from their Chicago home while sheltering from the rain in a park. The first lady, Michelle Obama, who attended Hadiya's funeral on Saturday, said, through a spokeswoman: "Too many times, we've seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them."

The next, his administration is maintaining a stony silence over the murder of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American born in Denver who was killed by a drone in Yemen in 2011. His father, Anwar (also American), was an Islamist cleric – killed by a drone a few weeks earlier. When asked about the incident during the election campaign, Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and senior adviser to Obama's re-election campaign, essentially blamed Abdulrahman for having the kind of dad the US wanted to kill. "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the wellbeing of their children."

On the one hand, we should not be surprised. These contradictions are inherent in the tension between the position to which he was elected and the forces that elected him. For all the global investment in Obama – peaking early, stratospherically and ridiculously, in the Nobel peace prize just nine months after he was voted in – he was elected to represent the interests of the most powerful and well-armed nation on Earth at a time of war. Murder was in the job description of the office he applied for and won to great fanfare. For all the claims of him becoming a great role model for young black men, he was always going to be responsible for the deaths of more innocents than Biggie and Tupac combined.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2004 and 2013 drone strikes have killed up to 893 civilians (including 176 children) in Pakistan, 178 civilians (including 37 children) in Yemen, and 57 civilians (including three children) in Somalia (while these started under Bush they were accelerated under Obama). According to the New York Times, his ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, complained to colleagues that "he didn't realise his main job was to kill people", a colleague said.

But Obama was returned to office by the votes of – among others – blacks, Latinos, youth and the poor, the very people and communities most likely to be blighted by gun violence. Michelle Obama came to Hadiya's funeral after considerable pressure had been applied by black communities in Chicago and nationwide. Since the shootings of children at Sandy Hook elementary school Obama has led an audacious push to galvanise a majority, in the country and in Congress, for tougher gun controls.

The unfortunate timing has highlighted the discrepancy between his foreign and domestic policies, exposing them not only as hypocritical but deeply tragic. While shop windows all around Obama's Chicago home hang posters saying "Stop killing people", the man they sent to the White House is doing precisely the opposite. Having shown his ability to rally human empathy to progressive causes at home, he then fails to recognise the common humanity of the innocents he is killing abroad.

"[America can be] a moral power," said Martin Luther King – on whose Bible Obama swore in as president – during the Vietnam war. "A power harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power unleashed against defenceless people." That's as true on the streets of Chicago as it is in the border regions of Pakistan.

Twitter: @garyyounge

© 2013 The Guardian

Gary Younge

Gary Younge is a Guardian columnist and feature writer based in the US

Guest Post: Too Big To Jail Is Here To Stay

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics blog,

Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General who claimed that prosecuting banks for crimes poses a risk to the financial sector and so corrupt bankers are “too big to jail” has lost his job:

MARTIN SMITH: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. And in that speech, you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.

LANNY BREUER: Right.

MARTIN SMITH: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?

LANNY BREUER: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

But the man who put him there, and who is ultimately responsible for the policy — the Attorney General himself — is here to stay.

eric-holder

Simon Johnson notes:

Attorney General Eric Holder expressed similar views in the context of discussing why more severe charges weren’t brought against Zurich-based UBS AG last year for manipulating the London interbank offered rate. And Neil Barofsky, a onetime senior prosecutor and former inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program that administered the bank bailouts, provided a scathing assessment of Justice Department policy.

The Justice Department likes to quote Thomas Jefferson: “The most sacred of the duties of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens,” a line that appears in its latest budget documents.

This sentiment is hardly consistent with saying that some companies have characteristics that put them above the law. Jefferson himself was very worried about the concentrated power of financiers — he would have seen today’s problems much more clearly than do Holder and Breuer.

Fundamentally, Obama’s continued support for Holder illustrates that Obama is still committed to the policy of holding financiers to a lesser standard of justice than other citizens.

The continued failure to implement even the Volcker rule — let alone a Glass-Steagall-style separation between retail and investment banking — illustrates that Obama is committed to letting bailed-out banks continue to operate in the risky manner that led to the crisis. So does the total failure to ensure a level playing field for retail investors in a market now totally dominated by algorithms.

The big banks continue to ride roughshod over the American people with the complicity of the political class. Too Big to Jail is an affront to the Constitution, an affront to the Bill of Rights, an affront to those like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Lysander Spooner, Frederick Douglas and all those who at various times crusaded to make equality before the law a reality in America.

The only sensible way forward is that lawbreakers on Wall Street must be prosecuted in the same way as other lawbreakers. That means that Eric Holder and all others associated with Too Big To Jail must lose their jobs.

But I doubt that will happen any time soon.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (8 votes)

Rosa Parks’ Stamp on American History

(Photo: George Bridges/ Getty)Today, to honor the Feb. 4 centennial of the birth of Rosa Parks, the United States Postal Service has issued a Rosa Parks stamp. Last year, a stone carving of Parks was added to the National Cathedral. In 2005, she became the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the nation's Capitol and, through a special act of Congress, a statue of her was ordered placed in the Capitol.

Yet these tributes to Rosa Parks rest on a narrow and distorted vision of her legacy. As the story goes, a quiet Montgomery, Ala., seamstress with a single act challenged Southern segregation, catapulted a young Martin Luther King Jr. into national leadership and ushered in the modern civil rights movement. Parks' memorialization promotes an improbable children's story of social change -- one not-angry woman sat down, the country was galvanized and structural racism was vanquished.

This fable diminishes the extensive history of collective action against racial injustice and underestimates the widespread opposition to the black freedom movement, which for decades treated Parks' political activities as "un-American." Most important, it skips over the enduring scourge of racial inequality in American society -- a reality that Parks continued to highlight and challenge -- and serves contemporary political interests that treat racial injustice as a thing of the past.

A more thorough accounting of Parks' political life offers a different set of reasons for the nation to honor her. Laboring in the 1940s and 1950s in relative obscurity, Parks and her colleague E.D. Nixon were among a small group who sought to transform Montgomery's NAACP into a more activist branch, determined to register their dissent, even if they could deal no significant blow to white supremacy. With Nixon as branch president and Parks as secretary, they pushed for black-voter registration, legal justice and school desegregation -- and Parks traveled the state documenting white brutality and legal malfeasance. The summer before her bus stand, she attended a two-week workshop at Highlander Folk School, an interracial, adult organizer training school in Tennessee, to organize for the implementation of school desegregation.

Knowing well the cost of bus resistance (a neighbor had been killed for his resistance, the young Claudette Colvin manhandled) and having made numerous personal stands against segregation that went nowhere, Parks understood the cost, danger and likely ineffectiveness of her stand. And yet "pushed as far as [she] could stand to be pushed," she did it anyway. When, to her surprise, her arrest galvanized a mass movement, she worked hard to sustain it over the next year.

Her stand led to significant economic and personal hardship for her family. In the early days of the boycott, both Rosa and Raymond Parks lost their jobs. Eight months after the boycott ended, still unable to find work, in poor health and continuing to face death threats, they left Montgomery for Detroit. There she did not rest, but joined with new and old comrades to fight the racism of her new hometown and American society more broadly.

One of the greatest distortions of the Parks fable is the way it portrays her as meek, missing the resolute political sensibility that identified Malcolm X as her personal hero. Arriving in Detroit in 1957, she spent more than half her life fighting racial injustice in the Jim Crow North. Describing the city as the "promised land that wasn't," the Parks family lived in the "heart of the ghetto" and found racism in Detroit "almost as widespread as Montgomery." Having volunteered on his upstart political campaign, Parks was hired by the newly elected Rep. John Conyers in 1965 to be part of his Detroit staff, where she worked on issues such as police brutality, open housing, welfare and job discrimination -- the plagues of Northern racism.

Her long-standing political commitments to self-defense, black history, economic justice, police accountability and black political empowerment intersected with key aspects of the Black Power movement, and she took part in numerous mobilizations in the late 1960s and 1970s. An internationalist, she opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam, demonstrated at the South African embassy to condemn apartheid and contested U.S. policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joined other activists in a letter calling for justice, not vengeance, insisting the U.S. must work with the international community and warning against retaliation or war.

To the end of her life, Parks continued to stress the enduring need for social change, reminding Americans "not [to] become comfortable with the gains we have made in the last forty years." That lifetime of steadfastness and outrage, tenacity and bravery, is what deserves national veneration.

Doing justice to Parks' actual legacy thus requires something of us -- something much harder than a stamp or a statue. Rosa Parks' courage was the ability to make an independent stand, even though she and others had done it before and nothing had changed, and even when she well-understood the harm that might befall her. She made those stands over and over throughout the course of her life.

Honoring her legacy means summoning similar audacity. It requires acknowledging that America is not a postracial society and that the blight of racial and social injustice is deep and manifest. It entails a profound recommitment to the goals for which she spent a lifetime fighting -- a criminal justice system fair and just to people of color, unfettered voting rights, educational access and equity, real assistance to the poor, an end to U.S. wars of occupation and black history in all parts of school curricula. Finally, it means heeding her words to Spelman College students: "Don't give up, and don't say the movement is dead."

© 2013 The Slate Group LLC

Jeanne Theoharis

Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science at Brooklyn College and is the author of numerous books and articles on the civil rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare and civil rights in post-9/11 America, including the biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks’ Stamp on American History

(Photo: George Bridges/ Getty)Today, to honor the Feb. 4 centennial of the birth of Rosa Parks, the United States Postal Service has issued a Rosa Parks stamp. Last year, a stone carving of Parks was added to the National Cathedral. In 2005, she became the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the nation's Capitol and, through a special act of Congress, a statue of her was ordered placed in the Capitol.

Yet these tributes to Rosa Parks rest on a narrow and distorted vision of her legacy. As the story goes, a quiet Montgomery, Ala., seamstress with a single act challenged Southern segregation, catapulted a young Martin Luther King Jr. into national leadership and ushered in the modern civil rights movement. Parks' memorialization promotes an improbable children's story of social change -- one not-angry woman sat down, the country was galvanized and structural racism was vanquished.

This fable diminishes the extensive history of collective action against racial injustice and underestimates the widespread opposition to the black freedom movement, which for decades treated Parks' political activities as "un-American." Most important, it skips over the enduring scourge of racial inequality in American society -- a reality that Parks continued to highlight and challenge -- and serves contemporary political interests that treat racial injustice as a thing of the past.

A more thorough accounting of Parks' political life offers a different set of reasons for the nation to honor her. Laboring in the 1940s and 1950s in relative obscurity, Parks and her colleague E.D. Nixon were among a small group who sought to transform Montgomery's NAACP into a more activist branch, determined to register their dissent, even if they could deal no significant blow to white supremacy. With Nixon as branch president and Parks as secretary, they pushed for black-voter registration, legal justice and school desegregation -- and Parks traveled the state documenting white brutality and legal malfeasance. The summer before her bus stand, she attended a two-week workshop at Highlander Folk School, an interracial, adult organizer training school in Tennessee, to organize for the implementation of school desegregation.

Knowing well the cost of bus resistance (a neighbor had been killed for his resistance, the young Claudette Colvin manhandled) and having made numerous personal stands against segregation that went nowhere, Parks understood the cost, danger and likely ineffectiveness of her stand. And yet "pushed as far as [she] could stand to be pushed," she did it anyway. When, to her surprise, her arrest galvanized a mass movement, she worked hard to sustain it over the next year.

Her stand led to significant economic and personal hardship for her family. In the early days of the boycott, both Rosa and Raymond Parks lost their jobs. Eight months after the boycott ended, still unable to find work, in poor health and continuing to face death threats, they left Montgomery for Detroit. There she did not rest, but joined with new and old comrades to fight the racism of her new hometown and American society more broadly.

One of the greatest distortions of the Parks fable is the way it portrays her as meek, missing the resolute political sensibility that identified Malcolm X as her personal hero. Arriving in Detroit in 1957, she spent more than half her life fighting racial injustice in the Jim Crow North. Describing the city as the "promised land that wasn't," the Parks family lived in the "heart of the ghetto" and found racism in Detroit "almost as widespread as Montgomery." Having volunteered on his upstart political campaign, Parks was hired by the newly elected Rep. John Conyers in 1965 to be part of his Detroit staff, where she worked on issues such as police brutality, open housing, welfare and job discrimination -- the plagues of Northern racism.

Her long-standing political commitments to self-defense, black history, economic justice, police accountability and black political empowerment intersected with key aspects of the Black Power movement, and she took part in numerous mobilizations in the late 1960s and 1970s. An internationalist, she opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam, demonstrated at the South African embassy to condemn apartheid and contested U.S. policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joined other activists in a letter calling for justice, not vengeance, insisting the U.S. must work with the international community and warning against retaliation or war.

To the end of her life, Parks continued to stress the enduring need for social change, reminding Americans "not [to] become comfortable with the gains we have made in the last forty years." That lifetime of steadfastness and outrage, tenacity and bravery, is what deserves national veneration.

Doing justice to Parks' actual legacy thus requires something of us -- something much harder than a stamp or a statue. Rosa Parks' courage was the ability to make an independent stand, even though she and others had done it before and nothing had changed, and even when she well-understood the harm that might befall her. She made those stands over and over throughout the course of her life.

Honoring her legacy means summoning similar audacity. It requires acknowledging that America is not a postracial society and that the blight of racial and social injustice is deep and manifest. It entails a profound recommitment to the goals for which she spent a lifetime fighting -- a criminal justice system fair and just to people of color, unfettered voting rights, educational access and equity, real assistance to the poor, an end to U.S. wars of occupation and black history in all parts of school curricula. Finally, it means heeding her words to Spelman College students: "Don't give up, and don't say the movement is dead."

© 2013 The Slate Group LLC

Jeanne Theoharis

Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science at Brooklyn College and is the author of numerous books and articles on the civil rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare and civil rights in post-9/11 America, including the biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.

Mexico’s War Against Hunger

Mexico’s War Against Hunger

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Posted on Feb 4, 2013

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Climate Action ‘Could Halve Energy Firms’ Worth’

Climate Action ‘Could Halve Energy Firms’ Worth’

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Posted on Feb 2, 2013
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By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network

This piece originally appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—Oil and gas multinationals could lose up to 60% of their market value if the world cuts its carbon emissions to limit climate change, according to the world’s second-largest bank.

This is the first time the financial sector has been warned by one of its own that shares could plummet if the necessary action is taken to prevent disaster.

The study, Oil and Carbon revisited: Value at risk from ‘unburnable’ reserves, is published by HSBC Global Research.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its 2012 World Energy Outlook that in order to have a 50% chance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2°C, only a third of current fossil fuel reserves can be burned before 2050.

Staying within the 2°C limit would mean keeping carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm). They are already at 390 ppm, and are increasing by about 2 ppm a year.

To stop them crossing the 450 ppm boundary, scientists say the world can emit only around 1,440 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon between now and mid-century. It has already emitted 400 Gt, leaving only around 1,000 Gt in the budget – one-third of current proven oil and gas reserves.

The 2°C target has been the goal of many policymakers for years, although there is a growing scientific consensus that it is already out of reach.

The World Bank has said that the Earth may warm by as much as 4°C, and some predictions suggest that even a 6°C rise is possible – a prospect whose impacts would be devastating.

The HSBC study says the economic impact on parts of the hydrocarbon industry of exploiting only a third of fossil fuel reserves would also be devastating.

The Norwegian company Statoil would be hardest hit, with 17% of its reserves unburnable. The study says about 6% of BP’s reserves are at risk, 5% of Total’s and 2% of Shell’s.

But it says a bigger risk is that reduced demand for fossil fuels could force down oil and gas prices, meaning that between 40 and 60% of leading fossil fuel firms’ current market capitalisation – essentially their net worth – could be at risk.

The study’s authors say: “We believe that investors have yet to price in such a risk, perhaps because it seems so long-term.

“And we accept that our scenario probably exaggerates the risk as we assume a low-carbon world today rather than beyond 2020.”

They advise investors to focus on companies with low-cost projects, and say they think capital intensive, high-cost projects like heavy oil and oil sands will be the riskiest.

The HSBC authors’ argument that much of the world’s fossil fuel reserves cannot be used if climate change is to be tackled seriously is not new: it has been advanced by scientists and conservationists for years.

What is striking is that this appears to be the first time the argument has been made by the financial sector itself. James Leaton of the NGO Carbon Tracker told the Climate News Network: “The question this raises for investors is this: is this investment compatible with a 2°C world?”

Andrew Simms, a fellow of the new economics foundation, said: “I wonder whether this will wake us up from the strange spellbound state that has persisted since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009?

“We haven’t forgotten climate change, but we have forgotten that we have to do something about it.”

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Gun Control Agenda Is Launching White Paranoid Extremists to Prepare for Armed Revolution

Peel back the code words of "defending" America and you have a treasonous movement in the works.

January 30, 2013  |  

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The battle over gun control has exposed a truth the mainstream media is apparently too shy to mention: A bunch of far-right, white, mostly Southern, paranoid extremists are preparing for armed revolution and apocalypse. They speak treason: literally.

They are preparing to "defend" America from America with arsenals of weapons and stockpiles of ammunition. Their "enemy" is everyone in America not like them.

They think the world is ending and/or that the government is out to get them. That doesn’t mean it will happen. But expect violence and assassinations. Their ideology is made up of equal parts racism, evangelical Christian fascination with the “end times,” hatred of President Obama, resentment of the “Old “South” variety and a Fox News/Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh version of world history.

As the New Yorker noted:

“Every demographic and political trend that helped to reëlect Barack Obama runs counter to the [South’s] self-definition:…The Solid South speaks less and less for America and more and more for itself alone… Solidity has always been the South’s strength, and its weakness. The same Southern lock that once held the Democratic Party now divides the Republican Party from the socially liberal, fiscally moderate tendencies of the rest of America… The South’s vices—‘violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas’—grow particularly acute during periods when it is marginalized and left behind. An estrangement between the South and the rest of the country would bring out the worst in both—dangerous insularity in the first, smug self-deception in the second.”

The Republican/white/Southern extremists make reasonable gun control impossible. Their cataclysmic irrationality risks taking the debate into the twilight zone, and that “zone” is a zone of violence: call it the civil war continued by other means.

Some “leaders” in the pro-gun lobby have literally said they will kill to protect their right to arm themselves with arsenals that are fit for nothing but murder and war. These delusional Americans are a vocal minority, and they have extreme fears — gun confiscation, civil instability, a tyrannical government, a “takeover” of the US by the UN and that Obama is a communist.

If you pay attention to the rhetoric, you hear code words calling out to the types of people who called January 19 and Martin Luther King’s birthday “Gun Appreciation Day." The event chairman, Larry Ward, said in the press release, “The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people.” Andrew P. Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, said in a video posted on the network’s GretaWire: “Here’s the dirty little secret about the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment was not written in order to protect your right to shoot deer, it was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government.”

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, delivered a rebuttal to President Obama's inaugural address. He accused the president of reducing the U.S. Constitution to "a blank slate for anyone's graffiti." LaPierre said the president "doesn't understand you. He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish."

In a piece in the Washington Times, Napolitano said that the Second Amendment “protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively.” By definition these “tyrants” are those who “don’t agree with the freedoms you cherish.” In other words they are the government representing most Americans who are not insane gun-collecting survivalists, Southern white males afraid of the world, and assorted Fox News watchers.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, the number of so-called patriot groups surged after President Obama was first elected president. “The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding,” the report said. “From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274.”

White Power to the Rescue

Don’t let the forces of regression dominate the media in 2013 - click here to support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave and memorial in Nathan Badford Forrest Park on Union Ave in Memphis, Tennesse. Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave and memorial in Nathan Badford Forrest Park on Union Ave in Memphis, Tennesse. (Photo: Thomas R Machnitzki)On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Escaped slaves were purportedly guided by Burkle at night down a tunnel or trench toward the nearby Mississippi River and turned over to sympathetic river traders who took them north to Cairo, Ill., and on to freedom in Canada.

Burkle and his descendants had good reason to avoid written records and to keep their activities secret. Memphis, on the eve of the Civil War, was one of the biggest slave markets in the South. After the war the city was an epicenter for Ku Klux Klan terror that included lynching, the nighttime burning of black churches and schools and the killing of black leaders and their white supporters, atrocities that continued into the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. If word had gotten out that Burkle used his home to help slaves escape, the structure would almost certainly have been burned and Burkle or his descendants, at the very least, driven out of the city. The story of Burkle’s aid to slaves fleeing bondage became public knowledge only a couple of decades ago.

The modest public profile of the Burkle house stands in stunning contrast with the monument in the center of Memphis to native son Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, who is buried in Forrest Park under a statue of himself in his Confederate general’s uniform and mounted on a horse, is one of the most odious figures in American history. A moody, barely literate, violent man—he was not averse to shooting his own troops if he deemed them to be cowards—he became a millionaire before the war as a slave trader. As a Confederate general he was noted for moronic aphorisms such as “War means fighting and fighting means killing.” He was, even by the accounts of those who served under him, a butcher. He led a massacre at Fort Pillowin Henning, Tenn., of some 300 black Union troops—who had surrendered and put down their weapons—as well as women and children who had sheltered in the fort. Forrest was, after the war, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his skills as a former cavalry commander to lead armed night raids to terrorize blacks.

Forrest, like many other white racists of the antebellum South, is enjoying a disquieting renaissance. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the West Tennessee Historical Commission last summer put up a 1,000-pound granite marker at the entrance to the park that read “Forrest Park.” The city, saying the groups had not obtained a permit, removed it with a crane. A dispute over the park name, now raging in the Memphis City Council, exposes the deep divide in Memphis and throughout much of the South between those who laud the Confederacy and those who detest it, a split that runs like a wide fault down racial lines.

A call last week by Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who is African-American, to strip Forrest’s name from the park and rename it after the crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells set off such an acrimonious debate between her and some white council members that Fullilove left a meeting in tears.

Wells was one of the nation’s most courageous and important journalists. She moved to Memphis as a young woman to live with her aunt. Her investigations revealed that lynching was fundamentally a mechanism to rid white businessmen of black competitors. When Thomas Moss of Memphis, a black man who ran the People’s Grocery Co., was murdered with his partners by a mob of whites and his store was looted and destroyed, Wells was incensed. “This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was,” she wrote. She noted “that the Southerner had never gotten over this resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income” and was using charges of rape against black business owners to mask this resentment. The lynching of Moss, she wrote, was “[a]n excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and ‘keep the nigger down.’ ”

Her newspaper, Free Speech, which railed against white mob violence, the inadequate black schools, segregation, discrimination and a corrupt legal system that denied justice to blacks, was destroyed by whites. Wells was forced to flee the city, becoming, as she wrote, “an exile from home for hinting at the truth.”

The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroes—those who fought to protect, defend and preserve life, such as Wells and Burkle—and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South. Honoring figures like Forrest in Memphis while ignoring Wells would be like erecting a statue to the Nazi death camp commander Amon Goeth in the Czech Republic town of Svitavy, the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 1,200 Jews.

The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.

“Lord, have mercy,” Fullilovemuttered as she listened.

But Forrest is only one of numerous flashpoints. Fliers reading “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Wants You to Join” appeared in the mailboxes of white families in Memphis in early January. The Ku Klux Klan also distributed pamphlets a few days ago in an Atlanta suburb. The Tennessee Legislature last year officially declared July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day to honor his birthday. There are 32 historical markers honoring Forrest in Tennessee alone and several in other Southern states. Montgomery, Ala., which I visited last fall, has a gigantic Confederate flag on the outskirts of the city, planted there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Confederate monuments dot Montgomery’s city center. There are three Confederate state holidays in Alabama, including Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Day. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi also honor Lee’s birthday. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Florida. And re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars.

The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness. It breeds intolerance and eventually violence. Violence becomes in this perverted belief system a cleansing agent, a way to restore a lost world. There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers. Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash. The challenge of the myth threatens what is left of hope. And as the economy unravels, as the future looks bleaker and bleaker, this terrifying myth gains potency. 

Achilles V. Clark, a soldier with the 20th Tennessee Cavalry under Forrest during the 1864 massacre at Fort Pillow, wrote to his sister after the attack: “The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. … I, with several others, tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.”

White Power to the Rescue

Don’t let the forces of regression dominate the media in 2013 - click here to support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave and memorial in Nathan Badford Forrest Park on Union Ave in Memphis, Tennesse. Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave and memorial in Nathan Badford Forrest Park on Union Ave in Memphis, Tennesse. (Photo: Thomas R Machnitzki)On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Escaped slaves were purportedly guided by Burkle at night down a tunnel or trench toward the nearby Mississippi River and turned over to sympathetic river traders who took them north to Cairo, Ill., and on to freedom in Canada.

Burkle and his descendants had good reason to avoid written records and to keep their activities secret. Memphis, on the eve of the Civil War, was one of the biggest slave markets in the South. After the war the city was an epicenter for Ku Klux Klan terror that included lynching, the nighttime burning of black churches and schools and the killing of black leaders and their white supporters, atrocities that continued into the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. If word had gotten out that Burkle used his home to help slaves escape, the structure would almost certainly have been burned and Burkle or his descendants, at the very least, driven out of the city. The story of Burkle’s aid to slaves fleeing bondage became public knowledge only a couple of decades ago.

The modest public profile of the Burkle house stands in stunning contrast with the monument in the center of Memphis to native son Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, who is buried in Forrest Park under a statue of himself in his Confederate general’s uniform and mounted on a horse, is one of the most odious figures in American history. A moody, barely literate, violent man—he was not averse to shooting his own troops if he deemed them to be cowards—he became a millionaire before the war as a slave trader. As a Confederate general he was noted for moronic aphorisms such as “War means fighting and fighting means killing.” He was, even by the accounts of those who served under him, a butcher. He led a massacre at Fort Pillowin Henning, Tenn., of some 300 black Union troops—who had surrendered and put down their weapons—as well as women and children who had sheltered in the fort. Forrest was, after the war, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his skills as a former cavalry commander to lead armed night raids to terrorize blacks.

Forrest, like many other white racists of the antebellum South, is enjoying a disquieting renaissance. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the West Tennessee Historical Commission last summer put up a 1,000-pound granite marker at the entrance to the park that read “Forrest Park.” The city, saying the groups had not obtained a permit, removed it with a crane. A dispute over the park name, now raging in the Memphis City Council, exposes the deep divide in Memphis and throughout much of the South between those who laud the Confederacy and those who detest it, a split that runs like a wide fault down racial lines.

A call last week by Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who is African-American, to strip Forrest’s name from the park and rename it after the crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells set off such an acrimonious debate between her and some white council members that Fullilove left a meeting in tears.

Wells was one of the nation’s most courageous and important journalists. She moved to Memphis as a young woman to live with her aunt. Her investigations revealed that lynching was fundamentally a mechanism to rid white businessmen of black competitors. When Thomas Moss of Memphis, a black man who ran the People’s Grocery Co., was murdered with his partners by a mob of whites and his store was looted and destroyed, Wells was incensed. “This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was,” she wrote. She noted “that the Southerner had never gotten over this resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income” and was using charges of rape against black business owners to mask this resentment. The lynching of Moss, she wrote, was “[a]n excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and ‘keep the nigger down.’ ”

Her newspaper, Free Speech, which railed against white mob violence, the inadequate black schools, segregation, discrimination and a corrupt legal system that denied justice to blacks, was destroyed by whites. Wells was forced to flee the city, becoming, as she wrote, “an exile from home for hinting at the truth.”

The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroes—those who fought to protect, defend and preserve life, such as Wells and Burkle—and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South. Honoring figures like Forrest in Memphis while ignoring Wells would be like erecting a statue to the Nazi death camp commander Amon Goeth in the Czech Republic town of Svitavy, the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 1,200 Jews.

The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.

“Lord, have mercy,” Fullilovemuttered as she listened.

But Forrest is only one of numerous flashpoints. Fliers reading “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Wants You to Join” appeared in the mailboxes of white families in Memphis in early January. The Ku Klux Klan also distributed pamphlets a few days ago in an Atlanta suburb. The Tennessee Legislature last year officially declared July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day to honor his birthday. There are 32 historical markers honoring Forrest in Tennessee alone and several in other Southern states. Montgomery, Ala., which I visited last fall, has a gigantic Confederate flag on the outskirts of the city, planted there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Confederate monuments dot Montgomery’s city center. There are three Confederate state holidays in Alabama, including Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Day. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi also honor Lee’s birthday. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Florida. And re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars.

The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness. It breeds intolerance and eventually violence. Violence becomes in this perverted belief system a cleansing agent, a way to restore a lost world. There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers. Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash. The challenge of the myth threatens what is left of hope. And as the economy unravels, as the future looks bleaker and bleaker, this terrifying myth gains potency. 

Achilles V. Clark, a soldier with the 20th Tennessee Cavalry under Forrest during the 1864 massacre at Fort Pillow, wrote to his sister after the attack: “The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. … I, with several others, tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.”

White Power to the Rescue

On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written (Illustration: Mr. Fish)documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Escaped slaves were purportedly guided by Burkle at night down a tunnel or trench toward the nearby Mississippi River and turned over to sympathetic river traders who took them north to Cairo, Ill., and on to freedom in Canada.

Burkle and his descendants had good reason to avoid written records and to keep their activities secret. Memphis, on the eve of the Civil War, was one of the biggest slave markets in the South. After the war the city was an epicenter for Ku Klux Klan terror that included lynching, the nighttime burning of black churches and schools and the killing of black leaders and their white supporters, atrocities that continued into the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. If word had gotten out that Burkle used his home to help slaves escape, the structure would almost certainly have been burned and Burkle or his descendants, at the very least, driven out of the city. The story of Burkle’s aid to slaves fleeing bondage became public knowledge only a couple of decades ago.

The modest public profile of the Burkle house stands in stunning contrast with the monument in the center of Memphis to native son Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, who is buried in Forrest Park under a statue of himself in his Confederate general’s uniform and mounted on a horse, is one of the most odious figures in American history. A moody, barely literate, violent man—he was not averse to shooting his own troops if he deemed them to be cowards—he became a millionaire before the war as a slave trader. As a Confederate general he was noted for moronic aphorisms such as “War means fighting and fighting means killing.” He was, even by the accounts of those who served under him, a butcher. He led a massacre at Fort Pillow in Henning, Tenn., of some 300 black Union troops—who had surrendered and put down their weapons—as well as women and children who had sheltered in the fort. Forrest was, after the war, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his skills as a former cavalry commander to lead armed night raids to terrorize blacks.

Forrest, like many other white racists of the antebellum South, is enjoying a disquieting renaissance. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the West Tennessee Historical Commission last summer put up a 1,000-pound granite marker at the entrance to the park that read “Forrest Park.” The city, saying the groups had not obtained a permit, removed it with a crane. A dispute over the park name, now raging in the Memphis City Council, exposes the deep divide in Memphis and throughout much of the South between those who laud the Confederacy and those who detest it, a split that runs like a wide fault down racial lines.

A call last week by Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who is African-American, to strip Forrest’s name from the park and rename it after the crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells set off such an acrimonious debate between her and some white council members that Fullilove left a meeting in tears.

Wells was one of the nation’s most courageous and important journalists. She moved to Memphis as a young woman to live with her aunt. Her investigations revealed that lynching was fundamentally a mechanism to rid white businessmen of black competitors. When Thomas Moss of Memphis, a black man who ran the People’s Grocery Co., was murdered with his partners by a mob of whites and his store was looted and destroyed, Wells was incensed. “This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was,” she wrote. She noted “that the Southerner had never gotten over this resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income” and was using charges of rape against black business owners to mask this resentment. The lynching of Moss, she wrote, was “[a]n excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and ‘keep the nigger down.’ ”

Her newspaper, Free Speech, which railed against white mob violence, the inadequate black schools, segregation, discrimination and a corrupt legal system that denied justice to blacks, was destroyed by whites. Wells was forced to flee the city, becoming, as she wrote, “an exile from home for hinting at the truth.”

The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroes—those who fought to protect, defend and preserve life, such as Wells and Burkle—and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South. Honoring figures like Forrest in Memphis while ignoring Wells would be like erecting a statue to the Nazi death camp commander Amon Goeth in the Czech Republic town of Svitavy, the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 1,200 Jews.

The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.

“Lord, have mercy,” Fullilove muttered as she listened.

But Forrest is only one of numerous flashpoints. Fliers reading “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Wants You to Join” appeared in the mailboxes of white families in Memphis in early January. The Ku Klux Klan also distributed pamphlets a few days ago in an Atlanta suburb. The Tennessee Legislature last year officially declared July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day to honor his birthday. There are 32 historical markers honoring Forrest in Tennessee alone and several in other Southern states. Montgomery, Ala., which I visited last fall, has a gigantic Confederate flag on the outskirts of the city, planted there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Confederate monuments dot Montgomery’s city center. There are three Confederate state holidays in Alabama, including Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Day. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi also honor Lee’s birthday. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Florida. And re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars.

The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness. It breeds intolerance and eventually violence. Violence becomes in this perverted belief system a cleansing agent, a way to restore a lost world. There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers. Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash. The challenge of the myth threatens what is left of hope. And as the economy unravels, as the future looks bleaker and bleaker, this terrifying myth gains potency.

Achilles V. Clark, a soldier with the 20th Tennessee Cavalry under Forrest during the 1864 massacre at Fort Pillow, wrote to his sister after the attack: “The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. … I, with several others, tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.”

© 2013 TruthDig

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

White Power to the Rescue

On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written (Illustration: Mr. Fish)documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Escaped slaves were purportedly guided by Burkle at night down a tunnel or trench toward the nearby Mississippi River and turned over to sympathetic river traders who took them north to Cairo, Ill., and on to freedom in Canada.

Burkle and his descendants had good reason to avoid written records and to keep their activities secret. Memphis, on the eve of the Civil War, was one of the biggest slave markets in the South. After the war the city was an epicenter for Ku Klux Klan terror that included lynching, the nighttime burning of black churches and schools and the killing of black leaders and their white supporters, atrocities that continued into the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. If word had gotten out that Burkle used his home to help slaves escape, the structure would almost certainly have been burned and Burkle or his descendants, at the very least, driven out of the city. The story of Burkle’s aid to slaves fleeing bondage became public knowledge only a couple of decades ago.

The modest public profile of the Burkle house stands in stunning contrast with the monument in the center of Memphis to native son Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, who is buried in Forrest Park under a statue of himself in his Confederate general’s uniform and mounted on a horse, is one of the most odious figures in American history. A moody, barely literate, violent man—he was not averse to shooting his own troops if he deemed them to be cowards—he became a millionaire before the war as a slave trader. As a Confederate general he was noted for moronic aphorisms such as “War means fighting and fighting means killing.” He was, even by the accounts of those who served under him, a butcher. He led a massacre at Fort Pillow in Henning, Tenn., of some 300 black Union troops—who had surrendered and put down their weapons—as well as women and children who had sheltered in the fort. Forrest was, after the war, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his skills as a former cavalry commander to lead armed night raids to terrorize blacks.

Forrest, like many other white racists of the antebellum South, is enjoying a disquieting renaissance. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the West Tennessee Historical Commission last summer put up a 1,000-pound granite marker at the entrance to the park that read “Forrest Park.” The city, saying the groups had not obtained a permit, removed it with a crane. A dispute over the park name, now raging in the Memphis City Council, exposes the deep divide in Memphis and throughout much of the South between those who laud the Confederacy and those who detest it, a split that runs like a wide fault down racial lines.

A call last week by Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who is African-American, to strip Forrest’s name from the park and rename it after the crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells set off such an acrimonious debate between her and some white council members that Fullilove left a meeting in tears.

Wells was one of the nation’s most courageous and important journalists. She moved to Memphis as a young woman to live with her aunt. Her investigations revealed that lynching was fundamentally a mechanism to rid white businessmen of black competitors. When Thomas Moss of Memphis, a black man who ran the People’s Grocery Co., was murdered with his partners by a mob of whites and his store was looted and destroyed, Wells was incensed. “This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was,” she wrote. She noted “that the Southerner had never gotten over this resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income” and was using charges of rape against black business owners to mask this resentment. The lynching of Moss, she wrote, was “[a]n excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and ‘keep the nigger down.’ ”

Her newspaper, Free Speech, which railed against white mob violence, the inadequate black schools, segregation, discrimination and a corrupt legal system that denied justice to blacks, was destroyed by whites. Wells was forced to flee the city, becoming, as she wrote, “an exile from home for hinting at the truth.”

The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroes—those who fought to protect, defend and preserve life, such as Wells and Burkle—and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South. Honoring figures like Forrest in Memphis while ignoring Wells would be like erecting a statue to the Nazi death camp commander Amon Goeth in the Czech Republic town of Svitavy, the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 1,200 Jews.

The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.

“Lord, have mercy,” Fullilove muttered as she listened.

But Forrest is only one of numerous flashpoints. Fliers reading “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Wants You to Join” appeared in the mailboxes of white families in Memphis in early January. The Ku Klux Klan also distributed pamphlets a few days ago in an Atlanta suburb. The Tennessee Legislature last year officially declared July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day to honor his birthday. There are 32 historical markers honoring Forrest in Tennessee alone and several in other Southern states. Montgomery, Ala., which I visited last fall, has a gigantic Confederate flag on the outskirts of the city, planted there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Confederate monuments dot Montgomery’s city center. There are three Confederate state holidays in Alabama, including Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Day. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi also honor Lee’s birthday. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Florida. And re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars.

The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness. It breeds intolerance and eventually violence. Violence becomes in this perverted belief system a cleansing agent, a way to restore a lost world. There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers. Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash. The challenge of the myth threatens what is left of hope. And as the economy unravels, as the future looks bleaker and bleaker, this terrifying myth gains potency.

Achilles V. Clark, a soldier with the 20th Tennessee Cavalry under Forrest during the 1864 massacre at Fort Pillow, wrote to his sister after the attack: “The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. … I, with several others, tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.”

© 2013 TruthDig

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

To Follow in MLK’s Footsteps, Join the Fight Against Foreclosure

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, almost fifty years after the historic 1963 March on Washington. Today we also bear witness to the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. The simultaneity of these events is remarkable, serving both as a signal of how far we’ve come as a nation, and how far we’ve left to go.

The economic crisis Barack Obama discussed in his first inaugural address—a new iteration of the economic crisis Martin Luther King jr. spent the last years of his life fighting—continues unabated. More specifically, the foreclosure crisis, which disproportionately affects people of color, continues to exact harsh costs.

But unlike the situation in King’s time, no significant movement exists to transform the crisis into an opportunity to generate economic equity. Just last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new provisions that should make it harder for banks to give mortgages to unqualified men and women, and that should help people going through foreclosure. Banks now have to ensure that the person applying for a mortgage has a high enough income to be able to pay the monthly bills and associated fees, as well as any other debts that individual may have, whether it be credit card debt or student loan debt. Furthermore, banks can no longer “dual-track” homeowners, foreclosing on their homes even as they work through the loan-modification process. These new provisions should help some homeowners.

But they do not go far enough.

The new provisions do little to nothing to ease the burden of the millions of American homeowners who are either underwater because their homes have fallen drastically in value, or on the verge of foreclosure because of job loss or health issues. It’s time for concerned Americans to figure out some new organizing strategies that will keep us in our homes and prevent further evictions.

Nationwide, a variety of groups have begun to do this, using a number of tactics up to and including civil disobedience. But the challenge here is a straightforward one: people are still too ashamed to even talk about their circumstances amongst family and friends, much less in a broader public forum, and as a result these organizations have found it difficult to build a critical mass of support for their activities.

Movements, like people, need homes

Five months after Occupy Wall Street began, a group of civil rights leaders formed Occupy the Dream. Although it amounted to little more than a photo opportunity, I think the idea of connecting the fight against rampant economic inequality to the strategies and tactics of the civil rights movement is one that deserves further examination.

We should begin with the church.

Approximately 57 years ago last year, a group of political organizers in the Deep South made a tactical decision to fight busing segregation. Though they’d had some success in finding individuals willing to challenge Jim Crow, they hadn’t yet found a way to mobilize the broader community.

They needed a central space within which to dialogue, to organize, and to provide legitimacy for their work. They chose the church because it was one of the few institutions blacks had a modicum of control over, one of the few institutions a significant number of blacks routinely participated in, perhaps the only institution with moral authority, one of the few institutions they could gain legitimacy from.

After Rosa Parks was arrested, the organizers identified a church led by young Martin Luther King jr. and Ralph Abernathy, and were able to successfully use the church to wage what would become the longest boycott Montgomery had ever seen. Victory came a full year later, when the Supreme Court upheld a federal district court ruling that found the segregation of buses in Alabama unconstitutional. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was created as a result.

Now, the causes and consequences of the Montgomery Bus Boycott are far more complex than I note above. Furthermore, the circumstances we face now are very different than the ones faced by black Montgomery denizens suffering under Jim Crow. Black churches are not the force they used to be (for good reason).

Yet a few facts remain. America remains a nation deeply segregated by race and class. Along those lines, even though churches are not as central a part of black life as they once were, they still represent an important gathering spot for African Americans. And they are still one of the only places where people from different walks of life routinely gather to gain moral and ethical instruction and guidance.

Given these realities, churches could be a wonderful place for organizing and mobilizing Americans against foreclosures. Organizations like Take Back the Land, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, and Occupy Baltimore (among others), have done a masterful job of getting citizens to realize that the foreclosure crisis is not driven by irresponsible individuals taking out loans they can’t afford, but rather by an irresponsible system. But imagine how this movement could be broadened if churches became involved, given how many churchgoers routinely attend church once a week if not more.

What would it look like?

I believe that a church-led movement against mortgage debt should have a few key components.

It would begin with a church-based anti-shame campaign modeled off the one developed by Strike Debt. Once a week or one Sunday a month, churchgoers either would be given (or should take) the opportunity to speak candidly about their mortgage debt. At best, this should be combined with sermons that emphasize the immorality of the ongoing debt crisis. Contrary to the views of prosperity gospel adherents—who believe that material wealth is a sign of God’s approval—Jesus was far from what we would today call a capitalist. The den of thieves he refers to in Matthew 21 was arguably the biggest bank in Jerusalem. If done correctly, the personal testimonies and sermons should reduce stigma around foreclosure within the church membership, and create a space for public conversations and political actions around debt. Churches can involve everyone in this activity—choirs can perform songs, children can draw pictures, and so on.

The second component is creating debt committees. These committees would exist for the purpose of identifying the roots of churchgoer debt. Are the mortgages held by one bank in particular or several? Are the terms of the loan onerous, as they were with the subprime mortgages disproportionately handed out to African Americans and latinos? Are the mortgages themselves under water? If individuals are in the foreclosure process, where are they in the process?

These committees would exist as both a short-term means of giving churchgoers the means of coping with the stresses and anxieties of being in debt and as long-term means of both giving churchgoers the information they need to take individual control over their debt and placing them within a broader community able to aggressively fight unfair practices.

The third component would be foreclosure defense committees. These committees would work to keep individuals who are in foreclosure in their homes through non-violent methods. This is perhaps the most critical component, the one most needed to transform the mortgage crisis from a fiscal crisis with minor moral consequences into a fully moral crisis. Churchgoers should learn nonviolent foreclosure defense tactics.

Note here that I am not simply talking about marches and/or boycotts—tactics associated with the civil rights movement but today used more often to release steam than to foment change. I am talking about engaging in tactics of civil disobedience designed to prevent bank officials and law officers from taking people out of their homes, tactics that force bankers, police, locksmiths, and the like to make a tough moral choice. Community outreach is important here—informing people in the affected communities of their plans to prevent foreclosures from happening. At best, given the concentration of the housing crisis in black communities, they will find other individuals willing to speak out and act against foreclosures.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King jr. spoke plaintively about a “promissory note” that guaranteed all Americans, regardless of race, “the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For African Americans, he said, that note had come back marked “insufficient funds.” Just four years ago, Barack Obama noted that “the success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity…”

These visions overlap, but not enough. Let’s begin to use our churches to bring Obama’s vision more in line with the one that made his re-election possible.

“The American Military Coup of 2012″: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in...

THE COUP OF 2012: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in America

Back in 1992 the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a “Strategy Essay Competition.”

The winner was a National War College student paper entitled, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” Authored by Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. the paper is a well documented, “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”

The ostensibly fictional work is written from the perspective of an imprisoned senior military officer about to be executed for opposing the military takeover of America, a coup accomplished through “legal” means. The essay makes the point that the coup was “the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992,” including “the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses,” particularly law enforcement.

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/Parameters/Articles/1992/1992%20dunlap.pdf

Dunlap cites what he considered a dangerous precedent, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, an act that sanctioned US military engagement with law enforcement in domestic “support operations,” including “civil disturbance” operations. The act codified the lawful status and use of military “assets” in domestic police work. 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/subtitle-A/part-I/chapter-18

Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms

Since that time the American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” According to Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.” Think again. (Guardian, 12/14/11)

Under the legislation, suspects can be held without trial  ”until the end of hostilities.” They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch implied that the signing of such a bill by a President would have once been unthinkable, noting that “the paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is.” Further, “it wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”

In fact, the heads of several “security agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. Even some within the Pentagon itself said they were against the bill. No matter, and no matter the intention inherent in lip service opposition, the corporate elite who drive the disastrous and inhumane polices of this country see it otherwise, and they, not the generals or anyone else, call the shots!

And they’ve been at this for some time. A persistent and on-gong counter-insurgency directed against the American people, the detention provisions embedded in the NDAA are about more than “social control.” It amounts to a direct attack on the person, an “unreasonable search and seizure” in the cause of maintaining the shaky capitalist ship of state; suppressing popular resistance, dissent and protest, movements of peace and justice, recast as “civil disorder,” “civil disturbance” and “domestic terror.”

Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing “civil disturbance” and “domestic terrorism” including the training of National Guard troops, local police and the authorization of massive surveillance, are part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept, promulgated by elite sectors intent on maintaining their grip on the levers of state; that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight; or at least be ordered to fight. (See: Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Joan M. Jensen, Yale University Press, 1991)

Thus, in reaction to a period of social upsurge flush with movements of liberation, justice and peace, and the mounting of powerful campaigns which threatened the status quo and elite control, the US military’s stand alone apparatus for conducting “civil disturbance suppression” operations, including detention, was born, immediately on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

The Garden Plot Operation

US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Operation Garden Plot, follows, as was mentioned, in the footsteps of a long tradition of US military involvement in the suppression of dissent. Intriguingly, the Garden Plot operation is cited in documents related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. (See: Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, William Pepper, Carroll and Graf, 1995)

http://www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/Other/GARDEN_PLOT_DoD_Civil_DisturbancePlan.pdf

http://www.911truth.org/osamas/morales.html

Currently, the Garden Plot operation is centered at the Pentagon’s Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). “Stood up” in 2002, (though In the works prior to 9/11), NORTHCOM, America’s “domestic military command,” is tasked with various “counter-terror,” “homeland defense” and “homeland security” activities, including “civil disturbance suppression” operations, and “assisting law enforcement” within Canada, the United States and Mexico. http://www.northcom.mil/

Under NORTHCOM, Operation Garden Plot functions, with the US Army as “executive agent,” as “ConPlan 2502.” In two parts, the “con plan” is officially listed as: United States Northern Command, Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 3501 (formerly 2501), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), dated 11 April 2006; and the United States Northern Command, Concept Plan 3502 (formerly 2502), Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

As noted above, the latest development in the Pentagon’s evolving mission of suppressing, at the behest of it’s corporate “civilian” overseers, a detention provision, is buried within the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 signed by President Obama in the fog (grog) of this past New Years Eve.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1540enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr1540enr.pdf

NDAA 2012

Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012 seemingly allows (the language is evasive) for the detention (without trial or charges) of American citizens redefined by the “executive” elite as “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror, ” a “war” which has become in the eyes of many, a war against the Constitution and civil liberties, a war against the disenchanted, fed-up and dissenting American public, spearheaded by a militarized police state allied to imperial military courts and “tribunals,” buttressed and rationalized with mind-bending mil-speak of “enemy combatants,” “unlawful combatants,” “enemy belligerents,” “homeland battlefield” “domestic extremists” “domestic terrorists” and the like.

And yet, behind all the sophistry, lies and manipulation, the brutal truth is obvious: The corporate elite that directs things has seen fit to unleash it’s military on it’s own people in a desperate attempt to suppress the democratic (read: protest) rights of it’s citizenry, us! Why? Simple: the paranoia of the thief, the well founded fear that knows that forced deprivation and scarcities, violence at home and abroad, rooted in greed, has run it’s course in America. And they are right! And so, it makes ominous sense that we are confronted with the horrific machinations of forced detention for those who resist a “new world order” come home in a “homeland” which opportunistically collapses all distinction between dissent and terrorism, police and military, right and wrong, obfuscating the truth of who the real terrorists are!

When Congress passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it included provisions that authorized U.S. armed forces to detain persons who are captured in the conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”

Section 1021 entitled “AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE” allows for the President (whoever that may be) “to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force … to detain covered persons …pending disposition under the law of war.”

“A covered person,” according to the edict’s malleable lingo, is “any person … who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks …” or, who “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban,” or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Accordingly, “the disposition of a person under the law of war” will include “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities …” Now, by stating that “nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force,” and that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States,” it would appear that the law exempts American citizens from the threat of detention. Correct?

Detention is a Booming Industry

Don’t be too confident. Detention is a booming industry. In 2006 the Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International reported that Halliburton off-spring, “global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR [Kellogg, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.” The $385 million dollars over 5 year contract “is to be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” building “temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.” Could the 2012 NDAA / Section 1021 be such a “new program?”

There has been some confusion over what Section 1021 actually means, and that in and of itself is cause for concern. Congressional spokespeople have stated that the provisions of NDAA 2012 / Sec 1021 do not provide any “new authority” to detain U.S. citizens or others who may be captured in the United States. Obama waffled likewise in the lead up to his signing the provision. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ho-hummed and said that, “we are simply codifying existing law.” But that was an evasion, since existing law, like it or not, regarding the detention of U.S. persons in the “war on terror” is indeterminate in important respects. And “indeterminate” is not good enough!

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service fleshes out the law of detention as set forth in Section 1021, identifying what is known to be true as well as what is unsettled and unresolved. It is perfectly clear, for example, that a U.S. citizen who fights alongside “enemy forces” against the United States on a foreign battlefield could be lawfully detained. This was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42337.pdf

On the other hand, the CRS report explains, “the President’s legal authority to militarily detain terrorist suspects apprehended in the United States has not been definitively settled.” Nor has Congress helped to settle it. “This bill does not endorse either side’s interpretation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “but leaves it to the courts to decide.”

So, if a detention of a U.S. person does occur, the CRS said, “it will be up to a court to determine Congress’s intent when it enacted the AUMF [the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force], or alternatively, to decide whether the law as it was subsequently developed by the courts and executive branch sufficiently established that authority for such detention already exists.”

Up to now, “lower courts that have addressed questions the Supreme Court left unanswered have not achieved a consensus on the extent to which Congress has authorized the detention without trial of U.S. persons as ‘enemy combatants,’ and Congress has not so far clarified its intent.”

Well, it is certainly reassuring that a New York court has sought to clarify it’s intent on the matter. On May 16, 2012 a newly appointed federal district judge, Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued a ruling, hailed by many, which preliminarily enjoins (prohibits) enforcement of the indefinite detention provisions (Sec 1021) of the NDAA 2012.

http://sdnyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/12-Civ.-00331-2012.05.16-Opinion-Granting-PI.pdf

The “temporary restraining order” came as a result of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violated both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. “The government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest said in her ruling. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”

Where it will go from here is anybodies guess. Judge Forrest’s ruling was not permanent. A day after the ruling, the Wall Street Journal, for it’s part, offered it’s sour grapes, pontificating that the ruling “will be overturned on appeal,” while “its reasoning needs to be deconstructed so it doesn’t do more harm in the meantime.” A week later, on the 25th, federal prosecutors from Obama’s Department of Justice, calling Judge Forrest’s ruling “extraordinary,” suggested that she lift the injunction, claiming further that her ruling only effects those plaintiffs named and not other potential or future targets of the draconian legislation.

http://sdnyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/12-Civ.-00331-2012.05.25-Govt-Motion-for-Reconsideration.pdf

Well, a few days ago on June 6th the upright Judge Forrest responded with an 8 page, “memorandum and opinion” in which she sought to “eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.” (New York Times, “Detention Provision is Blocked” 6/7/12). And as to whom and for whom her original order was intended: “The May 16th order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court – or by Congress.” That’s clear enough!

So, as it stands now now, although Judge Forrest’s decision may temporarily protect Americans from provision 1021, it remains to be seen what the higher courts do should Obama’s people appeal. And unfortunately, Judge Forrest’s ruling, as praiseworthy as it is, does nothing to spare both foreign reporters and civilians from a life of imprisonment, let alone the more than 6 billion citizens of foreign nations who can still be handcuffed and hauled away to a US military prison without ever being brought to trial.

So, bottom line, given the indeterminate nature of a law that would snatch us up off the streets, throw away the key, and grant us little or no access to a trial let alone legal counsel of choice not vetted by the Pentagon, we should have no illusions that we are well along the slippery indeterminate slope to a full blown militarized police state; the complete identification, coordination and consolidation of the police and military function in America in the interests of an elite who regard us as the enemy, maybe even their property! Maybe even as targets for assassination!

Naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution

We should recall, that the current attempt by the executive to designate American citizens for detention without trial; a naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of a trial, was preceded by the administration’s “resolve” to assassinate at will Americans abroad, place them on a “kill list,” and eliminate them. According to the New York Times “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” (5/29/12) the President and his advisors have made it clear that they have the authority “to order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rationalized such a move in “a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” (New York Times, “Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen,” 10/8/11) Accordingly, after a dubious period of “internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama gave his approval, and the cleric Anwar al-Awlak was assassinated in September 2011, along with an associate Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but happened to be traveling with Mr. al-Awlak. Apparently, campaign rhetoric and public demeanor to the contrary, when asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”

The Posse Comitatus Act

How did we get here? We need to recognize that the “massive diversion of military resources” into domestic law enforcement for the purposes of suppressing dissent and worse has a long history, a history that has witnessed the steady evisceration of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the sole federal statute that criminalizes military incursions into the domain of domestic law enforcement. The Act is the backbone of our democratic republican tradition of separating the military and police function in this country and represents the ultimate bulwark against military dictatorship in the interests of the rich. That is the reason it is and continues to be attacked, ridiculed and ignored by elements in both the corporate and military spheres. For example, “Current Obstacles to Fully Preparing Title 10 Forces for Homeland Defense and Civil Support” by Commander James S. Campbell, United States Navy, May 2008 and, “The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Law Enforcement Title” by COL (Ret) John R. Brinkerhoff, December 2004, both seek to delegitimize and undercut the status and importance of the Act, a law so critical to the maintenance of our freedoms, and yet, a law about which most Americans remain unaware.

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA487235

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/call/docs/10-16/ch_11.asp

The 1878 Act, 18 USC § 1385 – USE OF ARMY AND AIR FORCE AS POSSE COMITATUS, more popularly known as The Posse Comitatus Act, reads as follows:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, wilfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a Posse Comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

As noted, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement law would seemingly violate the spirit if not the letter of this Act. Nonetheless, like a slowly boiling pot relentlessly eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression, the utilization of military assets, under cover of law enforcement to suppress our democratic rights has proceeded steadily by design, virtually un-noticed.

Historical milestones: eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression

A very limited listing of some historical milestones:

* In 1968, as mentioned above, concurrent with the creation of the Federal Commission on Civil Disorder, better known as the Kerner Commission, the Pentagon hatched it’s very own “civil disorder” operation. “US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2,” code named “Garden Plot,” coordinates, until this day, all aspects of “civil disturbance suppression” in America, including the use of so-called “non-lethal weapons” during conveniently designated domestic “operations other than war” (OOTW), and “military operations in urban terrain” (MOUT), a “war” which pits “non-combatant” citizens and protesters (overwhelmingly non-violent) against militarized police on the streets of America.

* Only a few months after the round up and detention of 7,000 anti-war protesters in Washington DC, imprisoned in RFK stadium, an early Garden Plot operation, the 1971 Non-Detention Act was passed, specifically to repeal portions of the 1950 “anti-communist” “Emergency Detention Act” which had allowed for detention of suspected subversives without the normal Constitutional checks required for imprisonment. The Non-Detention Act required specific Congressional authorization for such detention. It reads that, “no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” In recent years, the statute has been used to challenge military detainment of U.S. citizens accused of terrorist activity, as in the case of Jose Padilla.

http://www.jenner.com/system/assets/assets/5417/original/18.pdf?1321652398

A Congressional Research Service report on the history of the Non-Detention Act noted that, “legislative debate, committee reports, and the political context of 1971 indicate that when Congress enacted Section 4001(a) it intended the statutory language to restrict all detentions by the executive branch, not merely those by the Attorney General.” Further, “lawmakers, both supporters and opponents of Section 4001(a), recognized that it would restrict the President and military authorities.”

As for the Padilla case, the Supreme Court of the United States originally took the 2004 case of Rumsfeld v. Padilla to decide the question of whether Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorized the President to detain a U.S. citizen, which would run afoul of the Non Detention Act. But it did not give an answer, instead ruling that the case had been “improperly filed.” And so the issue, as to whether and under what circumstances the military can pick you up, detain and imprison you, without charging you, from the point of view the Supreme Court, remains “unsettled.”

* Also in 1971, the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) was created. Headed up by Louis Giuffrida, formerly of Army Combat Command, the first director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CSTI introduced the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) concept, offering courses on “civil disorder management” for select “militarized” police and National Guard units armed and trained for domestic operations in the urban centers of America. During this period the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) facilitated federal funding and other military largess to the burgeoning militarized sectors of the domestic police forces along with training of selected National Guard units. Still in operation, CSTI is currently headed up by William J. Hatch Colonel, USA (RET), while funding for militarizing local police departments these days is facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, funding which has increased drastically since 9/11.

http://americaswarwithin.org/articles/2011/12/21/local-police-stockpile-high-tech-combat-ready-gear

* In 1975 the Trilateral Commission, a Western European, Japanese, US corporate think-tank convened by David Rockefeller, issued a report entitled, “The Crisis of Democracy.” (NYU Press, 1975) Authored by none other than Samuel  Huntington. (“Clash of Civilizations”). Huntington’s book is a blueprint for the on-going counter-revolution in America, emphasizing the elite requirement of suppressing democratic “insurgency,” the “distemper” of the 60s, a “distemper” that according to Huntington, stemmed from an “excess of democracy.” The only and final solution therefore is to “moderate” and “shrink democracy,” concluding that, “there are potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”

http://www.wrijneveld.nl/Boekenplank/BoekenVanAanhangersVanDeNieuweWereldOrde/1975-TC-The-Crisis-of-Democracy.pdf

* In 1983, the US Army published Field Manual 3-19-15, Civil Disturbance Operations (since updated in 2005). The manual addresses civil disturbance operations in both continental United States (CONUS) and outside continental United States (OCONUS). It states that, “today, United States (US) forces are deployed on peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and humanitarian assistance operations worldwide. During these operations, US forces are often faced with unruly and violent crowds intent on disrupting peace and the ability of US forces to maintain peace. Worldwide instability coupled with increasing US military participation in peacekeeping and related operations requires that US forces have access to the most current doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) necessary to quell riots and restore public order.”

“In addition to covering civil unrest doctrine for CONUS operations, FM 3-19.15 addresses domestic unrest and the military role in providing assistance to civil authorities requesting it for civil disturbance operations …The principles of civil disturbance operations, planning and training for such operations, and the TTP [“tactics, techniques and procedures”] employed to control civil disturbances and neutralize special threats are discussed in this manual. It also addresses special planning and preparation that are needed to quell riots in confinement facilities are also discussed. In the past, commanders were limited to the type of force they could apply to quell a riot. Riot batons, riot control agents, or lethal force were often used. Today, there is a wide array of nonlethal weapons (NLW) available to the commander that extends his use of force along the force continuum. This manual addresses the use of nonlethal (NL) and lethal forces when quelling a riot.” And as noted, the training is meant to be operative in both foreign and domestic contexts, the war abroad, the war at home.

http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-19-15.pdf

* In 1986, the Pentagon issues Department of Defense Directive 5525.5, or DoD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials. US military involvement in domestic law enforcement is subsumed and rationalized under “doctrines” entitled Operations Other Than War (OOTW) and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), along with divisions known as Military Support to Law Enforcement Agencies (MSLEA) and Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA)

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/552505p.pdf

* In 1992 President Clinton’s Justice Department consolidated a partnership with the Pentagon in the area of “technology transfer.” The so-called “technology transfer agreements” allowed for the military to weaponize domestic police forces, further enhancing the growth of para-military “special forces” like “special units” in local police departments across the country, including “civil disturbance” units and training. The Clinton administration extended the police/military connection by mandating that the Department of Defense and its associated private industries form a partnership with the Department of Justice to “engage the crime war with the same resolve they fought the Cold War.” The program, entitled, “Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” (“Technology Transfer from Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995), calls for the transfer of military technology to domestic police organizations to better fight “crime.” Previously, direct “transfers” of this sort were made only to friendly foreign governments. The Clinton directive enhanced and formalized direct militarization of domestic police forces.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/39680373/The-Militarization-of-the-Police-by-Frank-Morales

Currently, Title XIV of an earlier NDAA in 2007 entitled, “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizes “the Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal, State, and local first responders.” In other words, the law facilitates the “transfer” of the newest in so-called “crowd control” and surveillance technology to local militarized (politicized) police units.

* In 1993, the US Army and Marine Corps publish Domestic Support Operations Field Manual 100-19.

http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/fm100_19.pdf

* In 1994, the Department of Defense issued Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS) that details the rationale and means (“tactics, techniques and procedures”) for suppressing dissent. It states that, “the President is authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to suppress insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government and the Department of Defense for civil disturbances are important, do to the potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and the population.”

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/302512p.pdf

* In 1995, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an key elite “policymaker” headquartered in New York City, set up an “Independent Task Force on Nonlethal Weapons (NLW)” in order “to assess the current status of non-lethal weapons development and availability within the Department of Defense, in light of their potential to support U.S. military operations and foreign policy,” not to mention the suppression of dissent at home. The 16 member Task Force, which published its’ findings in 1999, was chaired by IBM executive Richard L. Garwin, CFR “Senior Fellow for Science and Technology.” Other members of the Task Force included CFR “military fellow” David Jones, United States Navy, Commander, Edward N. Luttwak, member, “National Security Study Group administered by the Department of Defense,” Edward C. Meyer, USA (Ret.), Chair of Mitretek Systems, formerly Chief of Staff, US Army, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Janet and Christopher Morris, President/Vice President, M2 Technologies, Inc, members US Global Strategy Council.

The Director of the CFR task force on non-lethal “technologies” was W. Montaque Winfield, former Executive Officer to the Commander of the “Stabilization Force” stationed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Also a 1998-9 CFR “military fellow,” Brigadier General Winfield, some of you might recall, was the deputy director for operations (DDO) in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11, who according to the 9/11 Commission, left his post that very morning to attend a “pre-scheduled meeting” and allowed a colleague who had only recently qualified to take over his position, to stand in for him. He didn’t return to his post until after the terrorist attacks had ended. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=montague_winfield

The CFR had issued an earlier report on the subject of “non-lethal” weapons in 1995, and stated in the 1999 report that they had regrettably “found that the DoD has made only limited progress developing and deploying nonlethal weapons since 1995.” The CFR, offering a bit of a tongue lashing to it’s hired generals, considered the “shortfall” the result of a “continued lack of appreciation for NLW among civilian and military policymakers.” Taking a firm line, the CFR report recommends that, “senior civilian and military leaders should make NLW development a priority.” After all, “nonlethal weapons could give policymakers a more potent weapon than economic sanctions.” In fact, “used alone”, the report notes, “NLW could penalize civilian economies without high civilian casualties.” Looking for something between “diplomatic table thumping and outright annihilation,” the armchair corporate warriors at the CRR continued to pound away at the need for accelerated “non-lethal” R and D.

http://revoltrevolt.org/demilitarizethepolice/nonlethal.html

* Subsequently, on July 9, 1996, the Department of Defense complied, issuing Directive 3000.3, Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons. The Directive established Department of Defense policies and responsibilities for the development and employment of so-called “non-lethal weapons,” designating the Commandant of the Marine Corps as Executive Agent for the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program. On July 1, 1997, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was established to support the Executive Agent for Non-Lethal Weapons in the day-to-day management of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program putting the “best and the brightest” at work in designing soft-kill means (including neuro-weapons) of “crowd dispersal” and “social control” set within a strategy of so-called “low-intensity warfare” and “counter-insurgency.”

http://jnlwp.defense.gov/pdf/2011%20Public%20%20Release%20%20NLW%20Reference%20Book%20V1.pdf

http://www.zcommunications.org/electromagnetic-weapons-by-frank-morales

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/hugh-gusterson/the-militarization-neuroscience

Recently, this past May 17, 2012 the DoD issued Instruction 3200.19. Entitled “Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW) Human Effects Characterization,” the “instruction” “establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for a human effects characterization process in support of the development of NLW, non lethal technology and NLW systems.” It also establishes a “Human Effects Review Board,” which “scientifically” evaluates and quantifies levels of pain, calculating the most desirable “effects” in regard to the use of non-lethal force against non-combatants and protesters. In this regard, they receive a lot of assistance from their friends and associates in academia.

http://cryptome.org/dodi/dodi-3200-19.pdf

In 1997 Penn State University established the Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies. The Institute is “dedicated to providing a base of multidisciplinary knowledge and technology that supports development and responsible application of non-lethal options for both military and civilian law enforcement. “ The Institute is administered by Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), under the direction and support of the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research. http://nldt2.arl.psu.edu/

Its Human Effects Advisory Panel sponsored a conference in September 2000, whose purpose was “to assess crowd behavior and the potential for crowd control … a leading core capability sought by the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program.” Their 2001 report was entitled, “Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons.”

http://nldt2.arl.psu.edu/documents/crowd_control_report.pdf

Meanwhile, the University of New Hampshire’s Non-Lethal Technology Innovation Center (NTIC) was created by a grant from the DoD’s Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate about the same time “to effect the next generation of NL capabilities by identifying and promoting the development of innovative concepts, materials and technologies within the academic community.” Its “Society of Force Effectiveness, Analysis and Techniques” (FEAT) was “established to engage primary source scientists to share results and analyses from studies of applied force, whether physical, psychological, or emotional. The Society’s scope of interests includes the impact of non-lethal or less lethal force intervention on sustained attention; performance degradation due to fatigue or intentional distraction; compliance; vigilance; and stress resilience.” The Society, given its specific intent on affecting “motivational behavior,” is keen on identifying “disciplines that support the development of tools of behavioral modification through force (e.g., kinetic and electromagnetic energies, psychological operations).”

http://www.unh.edu/ntic/

* In August of 2001, the Pentagon issued Field Manual 3-19.40, Internment and Resettlement Operations. Explicating the role of military police engaged in law enforcement, including at the point of domestic detention activities set within the context of “emergency” support, the extensive manual covers detention policies and methodologies and the use of non-lethal weapons. Chapter 10, Sections 49-66 detail the nature of “emergency services” within the “continental United States,” explaining that “MP (military police) units assisting ES (emergency service) operations in CONUS involve DoD-sponsored military programs that support the people and the government at all levels within the US and its territories.” Classified as “domestic support,” the manual states that, “federal armed forces can be employed when …” in the face of a declared “emergency,” “state and local authorities do not take appropriate action.”

In that instance, FEMA would serve as “the single POC within the government.” With a nod to the Posse Comitatus Act the document goes on to state that, “the MP support to ES in CONUS varies significantly from other I/R (internment/resettlement) operations. The basic difference is that local and state governments and the federal government and its agencies have a greater impact and role in supporting and meeting the needs in an affected community.” “If tasked to set up and operate an I/R facility, the MP commander retains control of military forces under his command,” and can operate “in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement officials.”

http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/a22.pdf

* September 11 provided the elite Project for a New American Century and their associates with the “new Pearl Harbor” they sought, as set forth in Rebuilding America’s Defenses (pg.51), a major consequence of which was the September 18, 2001 passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force or AUMF.

http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/sjres23.es.html

The Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world

This singular, presumably legal rationale for much of what we now endure, the AUMF substantiates the notion that the Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world, any time it chooses. In addition, apparently as we now see, the AUMF gives the Pentagon and it’s covetous corporate directors justification for the military takeover of America itself and the detention of its people. Thus, the AUMF is cited by the peddlers of Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012.

The modern “military tribunal” structure, which is a major piece of the detention/repression apparatus, came into formal existence as a consequence of the 2002 Department of Defense Military Commission Order No.1, issued on March 21, 2002 by former president (war criminal) George W. Bush.

http://www.defense.gov/news/Mar2002/d20020321ord.pdf

The entire military commission/tribunal structure is a work in progress, or more precisely, a dynamic and strategic power play on the part of the rulers set in motion following 9/11; a “might makes right” gambit undertaken by the militarist directors in the smoke of 9/11. Like the so-called Patriot Act, it was forced down the throats of a submissive, clueless public, sufficiently softened by means of prime time terror, fear and panic. Taking two steps forward and one step back, the militarists act first and then rationalize (or more precisely have their employees in the Congress) baptize the move after the fact. Where do presidents like Dubya, and now Obama get the authority to issue such blanket, unilateral decrees, totalitarian “executive orders,” such as Obama’s “National Defense Preparedness Order” of this year, which would force us to work for the Pentagon? The answer: No where! They have no authority! Particularly to set up parallel systems of jurisprudence as a means of by-passing Constitutional protections. In historical fact, this approach has a parallel in earlier maneuvers of another former “executive,” Adolph Hitler. (see Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Muller, Harvard, 1991)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

Concurrent with the round-up of over a thousand people following the September 11 attack, many of whom are still being held, many in solitary confinement, with no charges being filed, President Bush signed in November 2001 an order, establishing military “tribunals” for those non-citizens, accused, anywhere, of “terrorist related crimes.” And now, with the NDAA, citizens might soon face the same fate. Just imagine some smug and starchy government lawyer arguing that “the right to equal protection,” a fundamental principle of both U.S. and international law, demands that Americans be detained too!

At the time (2001), the National Legal Aid & Defender Association stated that the Bush promulgated “military order” violated the constitutional separation of powers:

“It has not been authorized by the Congress and is outside the President’s constitutional powers … the order strips away a variety of checks and balances on governmental power and the reliability and integrity of criminal judgments… undermines the rule of law worldwide, and invites reciprocal treatment of US nationals by hostile nations utilizing secret trials, a single entity as prosecutor, judge and jury, no judicial review and summary executions.”

More recently, in October 2009, the U.S. Congress passed and Obama dutifully signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (2009 MCA), which remains in effect today, legalizing further, if you will, the naked power grab by the executive in behalf of the elite. Since then the “Office of Military Commissions” has been set up as a public relations/propaganda front for the dictatorship. It promises to “provide fair and transparent trials of those persons subject to trial by Military Commissions while protecting national security interests.” Kind of like Fox’s “fair and balanced” news reporting. http://www.mc.mil/

Finally, we should recall that the NDAA of past years, aside from providing the funding of vast sums for illegal and immoral wars, torture and assassination, has been the site of various embedded measures designed to further limit our democratic rights of free expression and assembly, which is the foundation of effective and meaningful dissent. One such measure dates back to 2007, to the then so-called John Warner NDAA, named after militarism’s best friend and sponsor of the iconic AUMF.

Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007″ (H.R.5122), was signed by George Bush on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony. It allowed the President to declare a “public emergency” and subsequently station troops anywhere in America, seizing control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” Well, fortunately, a massive protest ensued and the sections of the law that allowed for such were eventually repealed in the midst of which Senator Pat Leahy commented that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law.” Preparing to order the military onto the streets of America, the presumption is that some form of martial law would be in evidence. Note that the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.”

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/

The concept of martial rule, as distinct from martial law, is not written, and therefore is an eminently more workable arrangement for “law enforcement forces.” That’s because, as US Army Field Manual 19-15 points out, “martial rule is based on public necessity. Public necessity in this sense means public safety.” According to the manual (cited above), updated in 2005, U.S. state authorities “may take such action within their own jurisdictions.” And yet, “whether or not martial rule has been proclaimed, commanders must weigh each proposed action against the threat to public order and safety. If the need for martial rule arises, the military commander at the scene must so inform the Army Chief of Staff and await instructions. If martial rule is imposed, the civilian population must be informed of the restrictions and rules of conduct that the military can enforce.”

Now, respecting the power of free speech, the manual suggests that, “during a civil disturbance, it may be advisable to prevent people from assembling. Civil law can make it unlawful for people to meet to plan an act of violence, rioting, or civil disturbance. Prohibitions on assembly may forbid gatherings at any place and time.” And don’t forget, “making hostile or inflammatory speeches advocating the overthrow of the lawful government and threats against public officials, if it endangered public safety, could violate such law.”

Further, during civil disturbance operations, “authorities must be prepared to detain large numbers of people,” forcing them into existing, though expanded “detention facilities.” Cautioning that, “if there are more detainees than civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the control forces to set up and operate temporary facilities.” Pending the approval of the Army Chief of Staff, the military can detain and jail citizens en masse. “The temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation or on suitable property under federal control.” These “temporary facilities” are “supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced in Army correctional operations. Guards and support personnel under direct supervision and control of MP officers and NCOs need not be trained or experienced in Army correctional operations. But they must be specifically instructed and closely supervised in the proper use of force.”

According to the Army, the detention facilities are situated near to the “disturbance area,” but far enough away “not to be endangered by riotous acts.” Given the large numbers of potential detainees, the logistics (holding, searching, processing areas) of such an undertaking, new construction of such facilities “may be needed to provide the segregation for ensuring effective control and administration.” It must be designed and “organized for a smooth flow of traffic,” while a medical “treatment area” would be utilized as a “separate holding area for injured detainees.” After a “detainee is logged in and searched,” “a file is initiated,” and a “case number” identifies the prisoner. In addition, “facility personnel also may use hospital ID tags. Using indelible ink, they write the case number and attach the tag to the detainees wrist. Different colors may be used to identify different offender classifications ”

Finally, if and when it should occur, “release procedures must be coordinated with civil authorities and appropriate legal counsel.” If the “detainee” should produce a writ of habeas corpus issued by a state court, thereby demanding ones day in court, the Army will “respectfully reply that the prisoner is being held by authority of the United States.”

In conclusion:

There is no question that the militarized police state, in all its myriad permutations has arrived. In fact, the militarizing of American cities and society as a whole proceeds apace in lock step (Cities Under Seige: The New Military Urbanism, Stephen Graham, 2010) with the racist, anti-immigrant “defense” of the borders, a veritable cash cow for military contractors, booming. The cities, the borders, so how bout the skies? Well, as this is being written, the latest 2013 NDAA discussions include a Senate Armed Services Committee call to allow drones to operate “freely and routinely” in America!

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2012_cr/sasc-uas.html

http://nacla.org/blog/2012/6/7/bringing-battlefield-border-wild-world-border-security-and-boundary-building-arizona

Meanwhile, the GAO has just issued a report to Congress entitled “DOD Should Reevaluate Requirements for the Selective Service System” which calls for an evaluation of Pentagon “manpower needs for the Selective Service System in light of current national security plans.” Such an evaluation would, the report notes, “better position Congress to make an informed decision about the necessity of the Selective Service System or any other alternatives that might substitute for it.”

http://cryptome.org/2012/06/gao-12-623.pdf

Yes indeed, the water is boiling. Not to mix metaphors, but it’s time to jump out of the frying pan and hopefully not into the fire, which I take to mean that we must confront and deconstruct, in a non-violent way, the increasing potential for far more violence and suppression of our basic freedoms. The handing over of our resources, lives, fortune and reputation to a clique of thieves and murderers dressed up as presidents, congress people and corporate military executives and underlings is to foster our continued enslavement to the perpetrators of injustice and genocide, here and broad, inequality and greed, here and abroad, and signals the political suicide for our republic. We have got to act to stop the police state and reassert the values of community, justice and equality in the councils of governance. And to do so we must dis-empower the militarists.

One thing we can do right now is to initiate organizing campaigns in neighborhoods and communities across the country aimed at the passing of Posse Comitatus-like legislation on the local and state level, encouraging dialogue on the de-militarization of our communities, and raising the human right to be free of the violation inherent in all forms of militarism. By removing all aspects of militarism from domestic policing, lock, stock and barrel, we can expand the terrain of dissent and begin to reclaim our country back from the economic vultures and parasites and their violent mercenaries who are killing this country and the world. But first we must criminalize, like the Posse Comitatus Act does, all military involvement in law enforcement.

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police. By analyzing police budgets, cutting the “special ops” training and funding and weapons transfers that fuel the militarization of law enforcement, we will most certainly decrease the level of police violence directed against the citizenry, and bridge issues and communities concerned with the epidemic of racist “police brutality” and the burgeoning of militarized police forces, veritable occupation armies in communities of color across America.

Along with criminalizing the militarization of local police we must work to criminalize racial profiling on the part of the police, a practice (indoctrinated in soldiers) that provides naked justification for “stop and frisk” harassment and the murde

Drone Proliferation — Crimes Against Humanity for “Global Security”

DRONERQ-170_Sentinel_impression_3-view

The Children Killed by America’s Drones. “Crimes Against Humanity” committed by Barack H. Obama., Prof Michel Chossudovsky, January 26, 2013

Behind each name there is the face of a child with a family history in a village in a far away country, with a mom and a dad, with brothers and sisters and friends.


U.S. government smear campaign against reporters exposing the drone wars

Proliferation of Armed Drones for “Global Security”: Will the UN Drone Inquiry Get to the Heart of the matter?, Chris Cole, January 26, 2013

The UN inquiry into the use of armed drones for targeted killing, announced yesterday by London-based UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, is very much to be welcomed. Undertaken at the direct request of several…


drone

UN Launches Major Investigation into Civilian Drone Deaths, 

Chris Woods and Alice K Ross, January 26, 2013

A UN investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes has been formally launched, with a leading human rights lawyer revealing the team that will carry out the inquiry. The announcement came…


martin-luther-king-jr

Obama Inauguration Day: Two Nobel Peace Laureates, “Drones Apart”. Martin Luther King: “From Every Mountainside, Let Freedom Ring.”, Felicity Arbuthnot, January 21, 2013

One day … Children at school will ask: What is war? You will answer them. You will tell them: Those words are not used any more. Like stagecoaches, galleys or slavery. Words no longer meaningful … (Martin Luther King,15th January…


DRONERQ-170_Sentinel_impression_3-view

Institutionalized Killing: Obama to Approve Drone Assassination Manual, 

Patrick Martin, January 21, 2013

President Obama is about to sign off on a manual that will institutionalize the process by which the White House orders and approves killings by remote-controlled drones, according to a report Sunday. The so-called counterterrorism “playbook” will define the circumstances…


DRONERQ-170_Sentinel_impression_3-view
 Drone Wars UK, January 20, 2013

“What is needed is a clear understanding of the issues involved so that informed decisions can be made.” The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, MoD 2011 In 2011 the MoD published its policy document on the use of armed…


king2
 Norman Solomon, January 19, 2013

A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, he has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”


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Obama’s Record Belies Inaugural Words

A friend asked me what I was thinking while listening to President Obama’s inaugural address. Here were my reactions:

Obama: “They [the Patriots of 1776] gave to us a republic, a government of and by and for the people.”
The flood of money-shaping elections and politics has given us a corporate government of the Exxons, by the General Motors, for the DuPonts.

Obama: “Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
In his first term Obama was indifferent to the more than 300,000 preventable fatalities a year in this country from hospital infections and malpractice, adverse drug effects, and occupational disease/trauma, in addition to coming perils of viral epidemics from abroad.

Obama: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
He reneged and kept silent on his repeated 2008 campaign promise to push for a $9.50 minimum wage by 2011 and for a card-check system to facilitate the growth of unions. In his first term he discouraged Democrats from championing these measures in Congress even though thirty million workers are making wages less than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation (see timeforaraise.org). He also opposed a Wall Street financial transaction tax and declined to reduce gigantic corporate welfare programs (that conservatives call “crony capitalism”) that beg for repeal.

Obama: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Obama and the emissaries he sends to international climate change conferences have brought up the rear among nations, infuriating our allies who looked to the U.S.A. for leadership. He never pressed for a carbon tax that even Exxon and leading conservatives, such as Gregory Mankiw, support (Mankiw was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush). I also believe that Obama will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil through the U.S. every day. A decision that Jim Hansen of NASA said would be catastrophic.

Obama: “[E]nduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war….We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and the rule of law.”
Hello! This coming from the ex-Constitutional law teacher who has turned his imperial presidency into an institutionalized violator of the Constitution, federal statutes and international treaties. He has personally ordered many unlawful military incursions and slayings in countries that are not at war with the U.S. against people who do not constitute “imminent threats.” (See the new documentary Dirty Wars.)

The week of his inauguration President Obama sent drones to destroy “suspects” and whoever may be with or near them, including children, without the rule of law being observed. He is the law – the secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner for such attacks that have taken many civilian lives and produced increased hatred toward the U.S. from Pakistan to Yemen. The alleged “secret law” in Justice Department memos that he relies on is designed to strip the Congress and the courts of their Constitutional roles, as well as to keep the American people in the dark about drone attack decisions he makes on what his aides called “Terror Tuesdays.”

Obama: “We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East….”
What about attending to our deteriorating democratic protections and civil liberties in our country? Washington, D.C. is corporate occupied territory in all three branches of government. Never in the past half century have the people and concern for their necessities been more shut out of their government. It continues to be “pay to play” time in the nation’s capital.

Obama: “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time…”
Well, then how about working to shift more power away from the few and toward the many? How about campaign finance reform and federal ballot access reform so voters can have more choices from third parties whose candidates, by the way, he should have been gracious enough to invite to his January 21, 2013 gala.

Granted, inaugural addresses are meant to be general and inspirational, not programmatic and revelatory. In a few days, Mr. Obama will have a chance to present his program in his more lengthy State of the Union address before the Congress. But inaugurations set tones as did the dominant militaristic displays and the managed adulation of the “imperial presidency.”

Tom Sherwood, a local commentator, watching the Inaugural parades up Pennsylvania Avenue from the sixth-floor balcony of the Newseum decried “the extraordinary expense – financial and psychological – of turning America’s Main Street into an armed camp where democracy is suspended for several days…. Protest groups are ‘assigned’ demonstration areas, and required to pay fees and adhere to strict assembly instructions…. This being the week of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it makes you wonder what success would have been achieved if civil rights workers had acceded to police demands not to march here or there, or to pay to get detailed permits first.”

Sherwood adds: “but why not a parade that showcases the social services, arts and industries, and sciences along with our military services.” He then gives examples for his refreshing proposal. (You can follow him on Twitter @tomsherwood.)

Writing in The New York Times, David Brooks had qualms in an otherwise laudatory column on Obama’s speech, concluding that “we have no party that is comfortable with civil society, no party that understands the ways government and the market can both crush and nurture community, no party with new ideas about how these things might blend together.”

Good point, Mr. Brooks, but not true for some third parties and their candidates who were the Obama parade’s uninvited ones.

Ralph Nader

Obama’s Record Belies Inaugural Words

A friend asked me what I was thinking while listening to President Obama’s inaugural address. Here were my reactions:

Obama: “They [the Patriots of 1776] gave to us a republic, a government of and by and for the people.”
The flood of money-shaping elections and politics has given us a corporate government of the Exxons, by the General Motors, for the DuPonts.

Obama: “Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
In his first term Obama was indifferent to the more than 300,000 preventable fatalities a year in this country from hospital infections and malpractice, adverse drug effects, and occupational disease/trauma, in addition to coming perils of viral epidemics from abroad.

Obama: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
He reneged and kept silent on his repeated 2008 campaign promise to push for a $9.50 minimum wage by 2011 and for a card-check system to facilitate the growth of unions. In his first term he discouraged Democrats from championing these measures in Congress even though thirty million workers are making wages less than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation (see timeforaraise.org). He also opposed a Wall Street financial transaction tax and declined to reduce gigantic corporate welfare programs (that conservatives call “crony capitalism”) that beg for repeal.

Obama: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Obama and the emissaries he sends to international climate change conferences have brought up the rear among nations, infuriating our allies who looked to the U.S.A. for leadership. He never pressed for a carbon tax that even Exxon and leading conservatives, such as Gregory Mankiw, support (Mankiw was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush). I also believe that Obama will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil through the U.S. every day. A decision that Jim Hansen of NASA said would be catastrophic.

Obama: “[E]nduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war….We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and the rule of law.”
Hello! This coming from the ex-Constitutional law teacher who has turned his imperial presidency into an institutionalized violator of the Constitution, federal statutes and international treaties. He has personally ordered many unlawful military incursions and slayings in countries that are not at war with the U.S. against people who do not constitute “imminent threats.” (See the new documentary Dirty Wars.)

The week of his inauguration President Obama sent drones to destroy “suspects” and whoever may be with or near them, including children, without the rule of law being observed. He is the law – the secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner for such attacks that have taken many civilian lives and produced increased hatred toward the U.S. from Pakistan to Yemen. The alleged “secret law” in Justice Department memos that he relies on is designed to strip the Congress and the courts of their Constitutional roles, as well as to keep the American people in the dark about drone attack decisions he makes on what his aides called “Terror Tuesdays.”

Obama: “We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East….”
What about attending to our deteriorating democratic protections and civil liberties in our country? Washington, D.C. is corporate occupied territory in all three branches of government. Never in the past half century have the people and concern for their necessities been more shut out of their government. It continues to be “pay to play” time in the nation’s capital.

Obama: “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time…”
Well, then how about working to shift more power away from the few and toward the many? How about campaign finance reform and federal ballot access reform so voters can have more choices from third parties whose candidates, by the way, he should have been gracious enough to invite to his January 21, 2013 gala.

Granted, inaugural addresses are meant to be general and inspirational, not programmatic and revelatory. In a few days, Mr. Obama will have a chance to present his program in his more lengthy State of the Union address before the Congress. But inaugurations set tones as did the dominant militaristic displays and the managed adulation of the “imperial presidency.”

Tom Sherwood, a local commentator, watching the Inaugural parades up Pennsylvania Avenue from the sixth-floor balcony of the Newseum decried “the extraordinary expense – financial and psychological – of turning America’s Main Street into an armed camp where democracy is suspended for several days…. Protest groups are ‘assigned’ demonstration areas, and required to pay fees and adhere to strict assembly instructions…. This being the week of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it makes you wonder what success would have been achieved if civil rights workers had acceded to police demands not to march here or there, or to pay to get detailed permits first.”

Sherwood adds: “but why not a parade that showcases the social services, arts and industries, and sciences along with our military services.” He then gives examples for his refreshing proposal. (You can follow him on Twitter @tomsherwood.)

Writing in The New York Times, David Brooks had qualms in an otherwise laudatory column on Obama’s speech, concluding that “we have no party that is comfortable with civil society, no party that understands the ways government and the market can both crush and nurture community, no party with new ideas about how these things might blend together.”

Good point, Mr. Brooks, but not true for some third parties and their candidates who were the Obama parade’s uninvited ones.

Ralph Nader

Old Struggles, Shifting Awareness in a New Age

This past week’s presidential inauguration on Martin Luther King Day finds us as a nation and people at a remarkable crossroads. Before us we have the same daunting issues we have faced for years yet there is something different. There is a developing shift in our consciousness and responsibility. We are witnessing a new awareness of the challenges and necessity of addressing them. What is needed is the collective will and steadfastness of effort to realize the opportunities that are upon us.

This year commemorates profound social events in history, from the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech 50 years ago. That dream and challenge is alive and vital today, and recent events have made the need to realize it ever more apparent. It is not enough to simply pay homage and then move on. Our work is before us and demands action.

From Hurricane Sandy to Sandy Hook, the challenges we face loom large. They range from climate change, gun control, immigration reform, to mass incarceration, war and social and environmental justice. On our shared planet, there is a demand for environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment. We must recognize that these issues are all connected. Not one can be had without the others. The tipping point on these issues is at hand.

Daily we witness the devastating effects of climate change, from year over year record temperatures with 2012 being the warmest year on record for the lower 48 U.S. states. We see the catastrophic global storms and record melting of the Artic Sea ice. People are making the connection of extreme weather and climate change. The storms affect everyone though poor and underdeveloped communities and civilizations feel a disproportionate brunt with resultant environmental injustice.

Gun violence is a public health threat and national disgrace. Averaging 87 gun related deaths per day the United States saw over 30,000 of our citizens die last year. Gun related deaths are the leading cause of death among inner city black children and teens. This ‘war’ rages on everyday right here on our soil. Deaths from these weapons of mass destruction will soon overtake annual auto fatalities. This public health threat has gone on for far too long. As with any public health threat, prevention is key. A sad and paradoxical outcome of the Sandy Hook shootings and the loss of innocent white school children and teachers is that previous congressional adversaries to gun control are starting to evolve recognizing that there is no “safe” population and are seeing the need for some sensible control of our current insane gun policy.

Immigration reform has long been ignored or used as political issue. Yet immigration is a reality in our society and how we respond will address social and economic justice. Our economy is dependent on the labor of these “non-recognized” people who we so often overlook and treat as non-entities. This is a complex and international issue that demands compassion and leadership to resolve.

Mass incarceration that flows from the “War on Drugs” finds 2.3 million people in the U.S. behind bars. With 5% of the world’s population the U.S. has 25% of the worlds incarcerated making the U.S. the “incarceration nation”. Fifty percent of this population is men of color and has been referred to as the new “Jim Crow”. This institutionalized racism tears apart the social fabric of our communities.

Finally as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan it is imperative upon us to look closely to addressing and eliminating the root causes of war. All war has the possibility of going nuclear either by intent or mistake. In a world that remains wired for instantaneous nuclear annihilation stemming from outmoded cold war thinking the time at long last has come to make real progress in abolishing these weapons. The cost of war and the military industrial complex to our society and world in lives, treasure and opportunity is incomprehensible. The entire war economy demands a complete review as we face the finite fragile future of our planet.

With a majority of U.S. citizens supporting these initiatives, the time for action is now.

How we deal with these and so many issues speaks volumes to who we are as a nation. The president spoke of many of these issues in his inaugural address. However he can not resolve these issues alone. It is not enough for us as citizens to say we are in favor of something and then sit back and expect someone else to make it happen. How often do we hear or express that “they” didn’t get the job done. In reality “they” is us! In our democracy, we the people must persevere and demand that our elected officials abide by the peoples will. We must not give up until the result we demand is realized. Let us move forward together in this renewed season of opportunity. In the words of Martin Luther King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Robert Dodge

Dr. Robert Dodge is a family practice physician in Ventura, California. He became active in the peace movement as a college student at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the 1970′s where he majored in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. He is a Board Member and Nuclear Ambassador of, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.PSRLA.org),and Board Member of Beyond War (www.beyondwar.org).

How the NRA Went From Best Friend of the Nation’s Police to Harsh Enemy...

As it became more unwilling to compromise over even minor gun controls, the NRA is now on the bad side of police.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

January 24, 2013  |  

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For years, the National Rifle Association cultivated a reputation as an unbeatable political powerhouse—a legacy that was challenged on Thursday with the introduction of major new gun control legislation in the U.S. Senate banning more than 100 military-style guns.

But the NRA’s tough reputation unwinds if one delves into the history behind its harshest rhetoric—which began in the 1970s and escalated as former allies, notably America’s police, rejected its increasingly militant demands. What today’s NRA would like to forget is how its unbending extremism led to a losing streak in Congress two decades ago, a period whose gun politics echo today but gun controls nevertheless passed.

Perhaps the best way to understand how the NRA is not the all-powerful lobby it seeks to portray itself as is to look at how the organization went from being a "best friend" of the nation’s police to a political enemy of law enforcement, from federal agents at the top of the ladder to local police chiefs and police unions below. As it became more outspoken and unwilling to compromise over insignificant gun controls, it became the group it remains today, vainly claiming to be the last line against impending government tryanny.

“Once you go down that road, how do you walk that rhetoric back?” said Robert Spitzer, a gun rights historian and SUNY-Cortland’s political science department chairman.

“Obama wants to turn the idea of absolutism into a dirty word,” NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre said in a speech to Nevada hunters on Tuesday, responding to Monday’s inaugural address in which the president chastized groups like the NRA for their unending hyperbole and vitriol. “He wants to put every private, personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government… And anyone who says that’s excessive, President Obama says that’s an absolutist.”

Pro-Government Before Anti-Government

In the heat of today’s political fights, where excessive emotion, exaggerated threats and hyperbole are routine, it’s easily forgotten that the NRA once stood with government.

For much of its 143-year history, the NRA’s survival depended on a cozy relationship with the government. It relied on state subsidies at its founding and then federal subsidies for marksmanship contests for generations. The U.S. military provided free guns or sold them at cost to NRA members for decades. Thousands of soldiers helped run annual shooting contests. Local police departments turned to the NRA for training.

In the late 1960s, that relationship began to change—and so did the NRA. Democrats in Congress threatened to end a $3 million shooting competition subsidy, asking why it was needed at the height of the Vietnam War. In 1968, Congress increased the regulation of guns sales and dealers in response to that decade’s urban riots and the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy. By 1977, these perceived slights allowed libertarian hardliners in the NRA to wrest control, ousting old-school sportsmen and claiming that America’s gun owners needed aggressive new defenders.

Today, many people forget how the NRA started calling agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who were charged with enforcing federal gun laws, “Nazis” in the early 1970s and again after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building by NRA member Timothy McVeigh. They forget that when District of Columbia proposed a ban on handguns, an NRA member on its city council said the ban would help revive the Klu Klux Klan in nearby Maryland and Virginia. They forget that the NRA opposed banning bullets that could pierce police vests, opposed banning guns with plastic parts that were not seen by airport x-ray scanners, and launched vicious PR campaigns aimed not just at members of Congress who supported gun controls but likeminded city police chiefs. 

World on a string: DNA to be used for data storage

RIA Novosti / S. Solovjev

RIA Novosti / S. Solovjev

From cave paintings to cloud computing, man has sought out increasingly complex ways to store data. Now researchers have found that nature’s own hard drive – DNA - can be synthesized to back up a world of knowledge in the information age.

On Wednesday researchers from the UK-based European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) published findings in the journal, Nature, describing how they had stored all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a digital photo of their lab, a PDF of the 1953 study that described the structure of DNA, and a 26-second sound clip from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, in manufactured DNA.

"We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it," says study co-author Nick Goldman of the EBI.

“It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy,” he continued.

DNA is in fact such an effective means of storage that the researchers estimate that at least 100 million hours of high-definition video would fit in a cup of it.

“A gram of DNA would hold the same information as a bit over a million compact discs,” Goldman said. “Your storage options are: one thing a bit smaller than your little finger, or a million CDs.”

DNA is a long, coiled molecular "ladder" comprising four nucleobases –  adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine – which are usually abbreviated as A, C, G and T. The various sequences of these four nucleobases are what encodes information in all known living organisms.

With the aid of a simple cipher, the scientists converted the ones and zeroes used in computing code into the four-letter alphabet of DNA code.

The EBI team is not the first to encode DNA. In 2012 a Harvard University research team published a paper in Science magazine, outlining their own method of DNA storage.

Goldman says their study stands apart because of the intrinsic measures that offset potential mistranslations.

Currently, technology only allows for the manufacture of DNA in short strings, and reading it is prone to error, as the same DNA letters are repeated over and over. But the researchers settled on a code structure that skillfully avoided both pitfalls.

“We knew we needed to make a code using only short strings of DNA, and to do it in such a way that creating a run of the same letter would be impossible. So we figured, let’s break up the code into lots of overlapping fragments going in both directions, with indexing information showing where each fragment belongs in the overall code, and make a coding scheme that doesn't allow repeats. That way, you would have to have the same error on four different fragments for it to fail – and that would be very rare," co-author Ewan Birney, Associate Director of EMBL-EBI, told Science Daily.

The code was then sent to Agilent, a US biotech company which produces synthetic DNA using a device similar to an inkjet printer.

"We downloaded the files from the web and used them to synthesize hundreds of thousands of pieces of DNA. The result looks like a tiny piece of dust," Emily Leproust of Aglient said.

Agilent then mailed the sample back to the EBI, where the researchers soaked the DNA in a solution to reconstitute it and used standard sequencing machines to decipher the code. All the files were recovered and read with 100 percent accuracy.

DNA could be useful for keeping huge amounts of information that must be kept for a long time but not retrieved very often, the researchers said. In order to store it, it would simply need to be freeze-dried and stored in a cold, dry and dark place, for anywhere between 600 to 5,000 years.

DNA storage does not come cheap, however. While Agilent Technologies worked pro bono for the sake of science, they say the commercial rate for DNA synthesis runs between $10,000 and $30,000.

But the researchers argued in Nature that “current trends in technological advances are reducing DNA synthesis costs at a pace that should make our scheme cost-effective for sub-50-year archiving within a decade.”

In the meantime, national archives and libraries will likely be the first beneficiaries, though it will eventually be possible for consumers to store information they want to have around in perpetuity, like wedding photos or videos for future grandchildren, Goldman said in an email to AP.

The researchers said they had no intention of ever putting the synthetic DNA into a living being, and it could never accidently become part of anything organic because its coding scheme would not be compatible.

"We have absolutely no intention of messing with life," said Goldman.

Conservatives Have Their Worst Week Ever

Have Republicans, and the right wing in general, ever been more disjointed? More confused? More incapable of getting out of their own way?NRA head Wayne LaPierre. (Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/Getty Images)

Watching America's political conservatives try to counter-maneuver opposite Barack Obama's re-inauguration over the course of the last week has been an incredible comedy – like watching the Three Stooges try to perform a liver transplant on roller skates.

Let's review the basic timeline. First, Political Media, a conservative action group, decided to try to make an appeal to win the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere by declaring January 19th – previously known as Martin Luther King Day, to the rest of us – to be "Gun Appreciation Day."

On Daily Beast: No Winners in Angry Gun Control Debate

They solicited hundreds of sponsors and sought to get 50 million people to sign a goofball petition (written in the style of the Declaration of Independence, with a plethora of "Whereas…"-es... Why do gun people insist on trying to use 18th-century syntax?) against the "tyrannical governments" that were out to take their guns. "Gun Appreciation Day" would also involve gun shows and other local events all over the country, meant as a counter-balance to the candle-toting gun control protests that were springing up over last weekend in anticipation of Obama's inauguration and the rumored plans for new gun legislation.

But even before their excellent idea gets out of the gate, it stalls out, as obnoxious reporters check the list of "Gun Appreciation Day" sponsors and find that the "American Third Position," a group that purports to represent the "unique political interests of White Americans," is one of the event's sponsors.

So now, Political Media has not only decided to hold its Gun Appreciation Event on a holiday meant to celebrate the life of a black leader who was a symbol of nonviolent protest and who was killed by a white man with a gun, it's done so with the financial help of some yahoo white supremacist group. But this doesn't derail the whole thing, as it's of course just an innocent mistake. Political Media kicks "Third Position" out and appropriately issues a statement, saying, "We have removed the group and reiterate this event is not about racial politics, it is about gun politics."

So far, so good, right? Well, then they go and actually hold their "Gun Appreciation Day" rallies all over the country, on Martin Luther King Day. And what happens? Five people get accidentally shot!

You can't make this stuff up. In three separate incidents – one in North Carolina, one in Ohio and one in Indiana – gun-loving real Americans did their darndest to worsen the demographics in the favor of the gun control lobby by blowing themselves away with accidental discharges. They failed, fortunately – all five victims in the three incidents survived – but you literally can't script a worse outcome for a political sideshow meant to highlight Americans' love of the wholesome, safe exercise of gun rights.

In North Carolina, three people – a 50-year-old man, a 54-year-old woman, and a 50-year-old retired sheriff's deputy – were injured when someone pulled a shotgun out of a display case and the 12-gauge accidentally went off, spraying the three people with birdshot.

In Ohio, a gun dealer was "checking out" a semi-automatic handgun he'd brought to a show at the Medina County Fairgrounds when he "accidentally" pulled the trigger, forgetting that, while he'd removed the magazine, he'd left a round in the chamber. According to the local police chief, the bullet "struck the floor, then a longtime friend of the gun dealer. The man was wounded in the arm and leg."

The man was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Cleveland. I sure hope that dude has private health insurance that he paid for. If it turns out that taxpayers had to foot the bill for a freaking helicopter flight to rescue the friend of some gun-toting conservative who decided to protest the socialist Obama administration by accidentally shooting a pal on Martin Luther King Day, that would be some kind of embarrassing, wouldn't it?

Of course, that would fit right in with the kind of week gun advocates had. In a show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, one Emory Cozee was loading his .45 while walking back to his car when he accidentally shot himself in the wrist. Once again, the taxpayer had to step in to the man's aid, as state troopers rushed to the scene and transported Cozee to a nearby hospital. No charges were filed, stupidity not yet being against the law in Indiana, or anywhere else.

Beyond those five people getting shot, the other "Gun Appreciation" events went on without incident. Then we had Obama's inauguration, where the president took more than one opportunity to goad the gun lobby in advance of an upcoming heated fight over his proposed gun restrictions, saying among other things, "Being true to our founding documents . . . does not mean we will all define liberty in the same way," and, "We cannot substitute absolutism for principle."

Without even taking a position on Obama or his proposed gun law, let me say this: The president, when he makes his case, does not come across like a drooling maniac, like he's pissed off to the point of reaching back, grabbing a frying pan, and belting you across the forehead if you even think about disagreeing with him. He comes across like what he is – a calm, experienced attorney making a rhetorical argument to adults. That, plus a lot of video of little kids' bodies being hauled out of school rooms in suburban Connecticut, can win you a lot of votes with people on the fence on the gun issue.

Then there's Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA. He came out after Obama's speech and gave one of his own at the Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada. In it, LaPierre weaved back and forth like a maniac, his blond forelock heaving, as he blurted out semi-coherent, quasi-grammatical defenses of "absolutism," saying things like "absolutes do exist, it's [sic] the basis of all civilization," and "without those absolutes, democracy decays into nothing more than two wolves and one lamb voting on who to eat for lunch."

He then proceeded to double down on his organization's lunatic decision to inject Obama's daughters into the national gun debate, saying, "If neither criminals nor the political class, with their bodyguards and security people, are limited by magazine capacity, we shouldn't be limited in our capacity, either."

This was clearly a reference to the controversy about the NRA's recent TV buy, in which they blasted Obama for being an "elitist hypocrite" for allowing his daughters to have Secret Service protection while Joe Sixpack has to send his kids to school without paramilitary security experts. "Protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours," was the ad's nutty tagline.

The NRA was rightfully blasted for that crazy-ass commercial, which made no sense on any level and mainly painted the NRA as a bunch of disturbed rage-addicts who are completely out of touch with national sentiment after Sandy Hook. (Yes, the president's kids have Secret Service protection – to protect them from your members, you idiots!)

Overall, people like LaPierre have fallen into every single political trap that's been laid for them in the last month, allowing Democrats to paint them as humorless, frustrated and probably dangerous political radicals whose response to Sandy Hook has been to publicly attack the president's minor children and to propose more guns in schools. Even the surge in NRA membership numbers since Sandy Hook is a net minus for the NRA, politically, because it scares the hell out of normal people and will result in increased pressure on pro-NRA congressional members to distance themselves from people whose response to piles of mowed-down children is to buy more guns.

So to recap: The gun lobby's response to Obama's inauguration was to organize a "Gun Appreciation Day" on Martin Luther King Day that left five of their own gun-loving members accidentally shot. Then they responded to Obama's inaugural speech by doubling down on the "elitist hypocrite" ad that earned them near-universal condemnation previously. So how could things get worse?

Well, you could have a spokesman for Political Media, which organized "Gun Appreciation Day," tell the Hollywood Reporter that Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is the perfect argument in support of gun rights. Political Media's Larry Ward said he's considering a "What Would Django Do?" campaign as part of this new rhetorical line they're thinking of trying to sell, particularly to the black community. The idea is, get this, that there wouldn't have been slavery if slaves had had gun rights.

"Django is perfect for what we're trying to do," said Ward, "which is to promote gun rights to minorities."

Hey, dipshit: Before anyone allowed slaves to have guns, they would have had to have other rights, like for instance being considered human beings. Are you people completely stupid? You'd have to have hoovered more coke than even Quentin Tarantino to imagine a world where white slave owners denied black people freedom of movement, denied them education and freedom of speech and dominion over their own bodies, but then for some reason also allowed them to buy guns. Jesus Christ! The whole point of slavery is that slaves didn't have any rights, much less the right to bear arms.

Now, Django Unchained is a movie that uses the N-word 109 times (breaking the all-time record set by Finding Nemo, as Kamau Bell wittily noted) and was so historically jumbled that it featured scenes of both the Ku Klux Klan and sunglasses before either existed. Can you imagine any white guy going into Bedford-Stuyvestant or Compton or any other place where so many young black people have been killed by guns, and trying to connect with them by telling them you're down with Django Unchained? That's how out-to-lunch these NRA dudes are, that they genuinely think this is their entrée into minority communities.

I'm not naïve enough to think that just being publicly stupid is going to result in political problems for American conservatives. That's never been the case before – hell, there are still people out there who think Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. There's enough popular anger out there toward Barack Obama that someone like Wayne LaPierre could probably shoot skeet on Martin Luther King's grave and public support for the NRA still won't drop below 40 percent.

But the behavior of the gun lobby in the last month will, for sure, have an impact on people who are on the fence about gun control. Moreover, there's bigger game in play here. The Republicans post-2012 have been staring down the barrel of an increasingly desperate demographic problem that will require the party to find some way to market itself to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and other minorities or else be relegated to permanent minority status.

But after Sandy Hook, the Democrats have skillfully painted the Republicans as the party of scary-looking and scary-sounding white maniacs like Tennessee security-company CEO James Yeager, a shaven-headed, soul-patched anger-sick white loony who posted a video promising to go ape if gun laws are enacted. "If this goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people," Yeager said.

Conservatives could have dealt with this post-Sandy Hook political curveball in a number of ways, from simply shutting up and working quietly behind the scenes to scuttle gun control efforts (that always worked before) to announcing willingness to engage in some extremely mild compromise (like maybe prohibiting schizophrenics from carrying machine guns near kindergartens).

Instead, they decided to piss all over Martin Luther King Day and then shoot themselves by the half-dozen in the process.

Well done, fellas! You're well on your way to solving your demographic problems.

© 2012 Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi

As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Conservatives Have Their Worst Week Ever

Have Republicans, and the right wing in general, ever been more disjointed? More confused? More incapable of getting out of their own way?NRA head Wayne LaPierre. (Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/Getty Images)

Watching America's political conservatives try to counter-maneuver opposite Barack Obama's re-inauguration over the course of the last week has been an incredible comedy – like watching the Three Stooges try to perform a liver transplant on roller skates.

Let's review the basic timeline. First, Political Media, a conservative action group, decided to try to make an appeal to win the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere by declaring January 19th – previously known as Martin Luther King Day, to the rest of us – to be "Gun Appreciation Day."

On Daily Beast: No Winners in Angry Gun Control Debate

They solicited hundreds of sponsors and sought to get 50 million people to sign a goofball petition (written in the style of the Declaration of Independence, with a plethora of "Whereas…"-es... Why do gun people insist on trying to use 18th-century syntax?) against the "tyrannical governments" that were out to take their guns. "Gun Appreciation Day" would also involve gun shows and other local events all over the country, meant as a counter-balance to the candle-toting gun control protests that were springing up over last weekend in anticipation of Obama's inauguration and the rumored plans for new gun legislation.

But even before their excellent idea gets out of the gate, it stalls out, as obnoxious reporters check the list of "Gun Appreciation Day" sponsors and find that the "American Third Position," a group that purports to represent the "unique political interests of White Americans," is one of the event's sponsors.

So now, Political Media has not only decided to hold its Gun Appreciation Event on a holiday meant to celebrate the life of a black leader who was a symbol of nonviolent protest and who was killed by a white man with a gun, it's done so with the financial help of some yahoo white supremacist group. But this doesn't derail the whole thing, as it's of course just an innocent mistake. Political Media kicks "Third Position" out and appropriately issues a statement, saying, "We have removed the group and reiterate this event is not about racial politics, it is about gun politics."

So far, so good, right? Well, then they go and actually hold their "Gun Appreciation Day" rallies all over the country, on Martin Luther King Day. And what happens? Five people get accidentally shot!

You can't make this stuff up. In three separate incidents – one in North Carolina, one in Ohio and one in Indiana – gun-loving real Americans did their darndest to worsen the demographics in the favor of the gun control lobby by blowing themselves away with accidental discharges. They failed, fortunately – all five victims in the three incidents survived – but you literally can't script a worse outcome for a political sideshow meant to highlight Americans' love of the wholesome, safe exercise of gun rights.

In North Carolina, three people – a 50-year-old man, a 54-year-old woman, and a 50-year-old retired sheriff's deputy – were injured when someone pulled a shotgun out of a display case and the 12-gauge accidentally went off, spraying the three people with birdshot.

In Ohio, a gun dealer was "checking out" a semi-automatic handgun he'd brought to a show at the Medina County Fairgrounds when he "accidentally" pulled the trigger, forgetting that, while he'd removed the magazine, he'd left a round in the chamber. According to the local police chief, the bullet "struck the floor, then a longtime friend of the gun dealer. The man was wounded in the arm and leg."

The man was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Cleveland. I sure hope that dude has private health insurance that he paid for. If it turns out that taxpayers had to foot the bill for a freaking helicopter flight to rescue the friend of some gun-toting conservative who decided to protest the socialist Obama administration by accidentally shooting a pal on Martin Luther King Day, that would be some kind of embarrassing, wouldn't it?

Of course, that would fit right in with the kind of week gun advocates had. In a show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, one Emory Cozee was loading his .45 while walking back to his car when he accidentally shot himself in the wrist. Once again, the taxpayer had to step in to the man's aid, as state troopers rushed to the scene and transported Cozee to a nearby hospital. No charges were filed, stupidity not yet being against the law in Indiana, or anywhere else.

Beyond those five people getting shot, the other "Gun Appreciation" events went on without incident. Then we had Obama's inauguration, where the president took more than one opportunity to goad the gun lobby in advance of an upcoming heated fight over his proposed gun restrictions, saying among other things, "Being true to our founding documents . . . does not mean we will all define liberty in the same way," and, "We cannot substitute absolutism for principle."

Without even taking a position on Obama or his proposed gun law, let me say this: The president, when he makes his case, does not come across like a drooling maniac, like he's pissed off to the point of reaching back, grabbing a frying pan, and belting you across the forehead if you even think about disagreeing with him. He comes across like what he is – a calm, experienced attorney making a rhetorical argument to adults. That, plus a lot of video of little kids' bodies being hauled out of school rooms in suburban Connecticut, can win you a lot of votes with people on the fence on the gun issue.

Then there's Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA. He came out after Obama's speech and gave one of his own at the Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada. In it, LaPierre weaved back and forth like a maniac, his blond forelock heaving, as he blurted out semi-coherent, quasi-grammatical defenses of "absolutism," saying things like "absolutes do exist, it's [sic] the basis of all civilization," and "without those absolutes, democracy decays into nothing more than two wolves and one lamb voting on who to eat for lunch."

He then proceeded to double down on his organization's lunatic decision to inject Obama's daughters into the national gun debate, saying, "If neither criminals nor the political class, with their bodyguards and security people, are limited by magazine capacity, we shouldn't be limited in our capacity, either."

This was clearly a reference to the controversy about the NRA's recent TV buy, in which they blasted Obama for being an "elitist hypocrite" for allowing his daughters to have Secret Service protection while Joe Sixpack has to send his kids to school without paramilitary security experts. "Protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours," was the ad's nutty tagline.

The NRA was rightfully blasted for that crazy-ass commercial, which made no sense on any level and mainly painted the NRA as a bunch of disturbed rage-addicts who are completely out of touch with national sentiment after Sandy Hook. (Yes, the president's kids have Secret Service protection – to protect them from your members, you idiots!)

Overall, people like LaPierre have fallen into every single political trap that's been laid for them in the last month, allowing Democrats to paint them as humorless, frustrated and probably dangerous political radicals whose response to Sandy Hook has been to publicly attack the president's minor children and to propose more guns in schools. Even the surge in NRA membership numbers since Sandy Hook is a net minus for the NRA, politically, because it scares the hell out of normal people and will result in increased pressure on pro-NRA congressional members to distance themselves from people whose response to piles of mowed-down children is to buy more guns.

So to recap: The gun lobby's response to Obama's inauguration was to organize a "Gun Appreciation Day" on Martin Luther King Day that left five of their own gun-loving members accidentally shot. Then they responded to Obama's inaugural speech by doubling down on the "elitist hypocrite" ad that earned them near-universal condemnation previously. So how could things get worse?

Well, you could have a spokesman for Political Media, which organized "Gun Appreciation Day," tell the Hollywood Reporter that Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is the perfect argument in support of gun rights. Political Media's Larry Ward said he's considering a "What Would Django Do?" campaign as part of this new rhetorical line they're thinking of trying to sell, particularly to the black community. The idea is, get this, that there wouldn't have been slavery if slaves had had gun rights.

"Django is perfect for what we're trying to do," said Ward, "which is to promote gun rights to minorities."

Hey, dipshit: Before anyone allowed slaves to have guns, they would have had to have other rights, like for instance being considered human beings. Are you people completely stupid? You'd have to have hoovered more coke than even Quentin Tarantino to imagine a world where white slave owners denied black people freedom of movement, denied them education and freedom of speech and dominion over their own bodies, but then for some reason also allowed them to buy guns. Jesus Christ! The whole point of slavery is that slaves didn't have any rights, much less the right to bear arms.

Now, Django Unchained is a movie that uses the N-word 109 times (breaking the all-time record set by Finding Nemo, as Kamau Bell wittily noted) and was so historically jumbled that it featured scenes of both the Ku Klux Klan and sunglasses before either existed. Can you imagine any white guy going into Bedford-Stuyvestant or Compton or any other place where so many young black people have been killed by guns, and trying to connect with them by telling them you're down with Django Unchained? That's how out-to-lunch these NRA dudes are, that they genuinely think this is their entrée into minority communities.

I'm not naïve enough to think that just being publicly stupid is going to result in political problems for American conservatives. That's never been the case before – hell, there are still people out there who think Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. There's enough popular anger out there toward Barack Obama that someone like Wayne LaPierre could probably shoot skeet on Martin Luther King's grave and public support for the NRA still won't drop below 40 percent.

But the behavior of the gun lobby in the last month will, for sure, have an impact on people who are on the fence about gun control. Moreover, there's bigger game in play here. The Republicans post-2012 have been staring down the barrel of an increasingly desperate demographic problem that will require the party to find some way to market itself to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and other minorities or else be relegated to permanent minority status.

But after Sandy Hook, the Democrats have skillfully painted the Republicans as the party of scary-looking and scary-sounding white maniacs like Tennessee security-company CEO James Yeager, a shaven-headed, soul-patched anger-sick white loony who posted a video promising to go ape if gun laws are enacted. "If this goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people," Yeager said.

Conservatives could have dealt with this post-Sandy Hook political curveball in a number of ways, from simply shutting up and working quietly behind the scenes to scuttle gun control efforts (that always worked before) to announcing willingness to engage in some extremely mild compromise (like maybe prohibiting schizophrenics from carrying machine guns near kindergartens).

Instead, they decided to piss all over Martin Luther King Day and then shoot themselves by the half-dozen in the process.

Well done, fellas! You're well on your way to solving your demographic problems.

© 2012 Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi

As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Progressives Who Voted For Obama

democrats

A Letter I Wish Progressive Groups Would Send to Their Members

Dear Progressives,

With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn:

“When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”

With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity.

Let’s face it: despite often nice-sounding rhetoric from the president, this administration has continued with a wide range of policies antithetical to progressive values.

Corporate power, climate change and perpetual war are running amok while civil liberties and economic fairness take a beating. President Obama has even put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts.

Last fall, the vast majority of progressives voted for Obama to prevent the presidency from going to a Republican Party replete with racism, misogyny, anti-gay bigotry and xenophobia. Defeating the right wing was cause for celebration. And now is the time to fight for genuine progressive policies.

But let’s be real about our current situation. Obama has led the Democratic Party — including, at the end of the legislative day, almost every Democrat on Capitol Hill — deeper into an abyss of corporate-driven austerity, huge military outlays, normalization of civil-liberties abuses and absence of significant action on climate change. Leverage from the Oval Office is acting as a brake on many — in Congress and in progressive constituency groups — who would prefer to be moving legislation in a progressive direction.

Hopefully we’ve learned by now that progressive oratory is no substitute for progressive policies. The soaring rhetoric in Obama’s inaugural address this week offered inspiring words about a compassionate society where everyone is respected and we look out for each other. Unfortunately and routinely, the president’s lofty words have allowed him to slide by many progressives despite policies that often amount to a modern version of “social liberalism, fiscal conservatism.”

The New York Times headline over its front-page coverage, “Obama Offers a Liberal Vision in Inaugural Address,” served up the current presidential recipe: a spoonful of rhetorical sugar to help the worsening austerity go down. But no amount of verbal sweetness can make up for assorted policies aligned with Wall Street and the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

“At their inaugurals,” independent journalist I.F. Stone noted long ago, our presidents “make us the dupes of our hopes.”

Unlike four years ago, Obama has a presidential record — and its contrasts with Monday’s oratorical performance are stark. A president seeking minimally fair economic policies, for instance, would not compound the disaster of four years of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury by replacing him with Jack Lew — arguably even more of a corporate flack.

On foreign policy, it was notably disingenuous for Obama to proclaim in his second inaugural speech that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war” — minutes after completing a first term when his administration launched more than 20,000 air strikes, sharply escalated the use of weaponized drones and did so much else to make war perpetual.

Meanwhile, the media hype on the inaugural speech’s passage about climate change has lacked any indication that the White House is ready to push for steps commensurate with the magnitude of the real climate crisis.

The founder of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Daphne Wysham, points out that the inaugural words “will be meaningless unless a) the Obama administration rejects the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; b) Obama selects a new EPA administrator who is willing to take action under the Clean Air Act to rein in CO2 emissions from all sources; c) he stops pushing for dangerous energy development deep offshore in the Gulf, in the Arctic and via continued fracking for oil and gas; d) he pursues a renewable energy standard for the entire country; and e) he directs our publicly financed development banks and export credit agencies to get out of fossil fuels entirely.”

The leadership we need is certainly not coming from the White House or Congress. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,” Martin Luther King Jr. observed. The leadership we need has to come, first and foremost, from us.

Some members of Congress — maybe dozens — have shown commitment to a progressive agenda, and a larger number claim a progressive mantle. In any event, their role is not our role. They adhere to dotted lines that we should cross. They engage in Hill-speak euphemisms that we should bypass. Routinely, they decline to directly confront wrong-headed Obama administration policies. And we must confront those policies.

If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who “get” progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground.

When we’re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won’t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial “access” has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power.

We need to show that we’ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values — and we can defeat others, including self-described “progressives,” who aren’t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement.

We’re in this for the long haul, but we’re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration’s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line.

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

A Letter I Wish Progressive Groups Would Send to Their Members

Dear Progressives,

With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”“When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.” (Photo: HowardZinn.org)

With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity.

Let’s face it: despite often nice-sounding rhetoric from the president, this administration has continued with a wide range of policies antithetical to progressive values.

Corporate power, climate change and perpetual war are running amok while civil liberties and economic fairness take a beating. President Obama has even put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts.

Last fall, the vast majority of progressives voted for Obama to prevent the presidency from going to a Republican Party replete with racism, misogyny, anti-gay bigotry and xenophobia. Defeating the right wing was cause for celebration. And now is the time to fight for genuine progressive policies.

But let’s be real about our current situation. Obama has led the Democratic Party -- including, at the end of the legislative day, almost every Democrat on Capitol Hill -- deeper into an abyss of corporate-driven austerity, huge military outlays, normalization of civil-liberties abuses and absence of significant action on climate change. Leverage from the Oval Office is acting as a brake on many -- in Congress and in progressive constituency groups -- who would prefer to be moving legislation in a progressive direction.

Hopefully we’ve learned by now that progressive oratory is no substitute for progressive policies. The soaring rhetoric in Obama’s inaugural address this week offered inspiring words about a compassionate society where everyone is respected and we look out for each other. Unfortunately and routinely, the president’s lofty words have allowed him to slide by many progressives despite policies that often amount to a modern version of “social liberalism, fiscal conservatism.”

The New York Times headline over its front-page coverage, “Obama Offers a Liberal Vision in Inaugural Address,” served up the current presidential recipe: a spoonful of rhetorical sugar to help the worsening austerity go down. But no amount of verbal sweetness can make up for assorted policies aligned with Wall Street and the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

“At their inaugurals,” independent journalist I.F. Stone noted long ago, our presidents “make us the dupes of our hopes.”

Unlike four years ago, Obama has a presidential record -- and its contrasts with Monday’s oratorical performance are stark. A president seeking minimally fair economic policies, for instance, would not compound the disaster of four years of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury by replacing him with Jack Lew -- arguably even more of a corporate flack.

Superficial “access” has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power.

On foreign policy, it was notably disingenuous for Obama to proclaim in his second inaugural speech that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war” -- minutes after completing a first term when his administration launched more than 20,000 air strikes, sharply escalated the use of weaponized drones and did so much else to make war perpetual.

Meanwhile, the media hype on the inaugural speech’s passage about climate change has lacked any indication that the White House is ready to push for steps commensurate with the magnitude of the real climate crisis.

The founder of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Daphne Wysham, points out that the inaugural words “will be meaningless unless a) the Obama administration rejects the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; b) Obama selects a new EPA administrator who is willing to take action under the Clean Air Act to rein in CO2 emissions from all sources; c) he stops pushing for dangerous energy development deep offshore in the Gulf, in the Arctic and via continued fracking for oil and gas; d) he pursues a renewable energy standard for the entire country; and e) he directs our publicly financed development banks and export credit agencies to get out of fossil fuels entirely.”

The leadership we need is certainly not coming from the White House or Congress. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,” Martin Luther King Jr. observed. The leadership we need has to come, first and foremost, from us.

Some members of Congress -- maybe dozens -- have shown commitment to a progressive agenda, and a larger number claim a progressive mantle. In any event, their role is not our role. They adhere to dotted lines that we should cross. They engage in Hill-speak euphemisms that we should bypass. Routinely, they decline to directly confront wrong-headed Obama administration policies. And we must confront those policies.

If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who “get” progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground.

When we’re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won’t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial “access” has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power.

We need to show that we’ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values -- and we can defeat others, including self-described “progressives,” who aren’t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement.

We’re in this for the long haul, but we’re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration’s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line.

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. He co-chairs the national Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books includeWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State".

Fox: Obama’s ‘Hard-Left’ Inaugural ‘Sets Up’ GOP Comeback

Even if you missed President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, you know it had to be good, effective and frightening to Republicans judging from Fox News reactions. This morning, Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. and Steve Doocy tried to spin it by predicting that Obama's “hard-left manifesto” was so off base, it would lead to Democrats getting a "shellacking" in 2014.

Johnson, reportedly a Roger Ailes mouthpiece, concern trolled as a Democrat:

What we heard was a hard-left manifesto… It was not so much about populism as it was about pandering. And it was a very bizarre, disordered priority of what our national interests were. Where was the debt? Where was the deficit? Where was the unemployment? Where was the issue of poverty in America, which has increased under his watch? Where is the hopelessness? Where is the fear that so many Americans have that they’re gonna lose their house? Where are the solutions for those problems?

…Instead we got this catalogue of false premises, phantom arguments, in terms of civil rights, in terms of global warming, in terms of long lines at the polls? So if I’m voting for the president in this past election, and I’m a moderate Democrat and a centrist Democrat, as I am, and I hear this yesterday, I say, "Is this president in touch with the realities of America or is this more about saying, ‘My hand is on the President Lincoln and Martin Luther King’s bible. This stack of bibles I will make my statement about what I believe and look out on this millions of people, this throng and remember this forever.’" It’s not about remembering this forever, it’s about what we’re gonna do to make our country safe over the next four years... It was disconcerting to say the least.

Doocy played the role of GOP consoler:

I mean, he was very clear he was gonna push his very left agenda. But you know what? There are some on the right, Peter, who say that this could backfire on him because if you remember in 2009, he took office, he’s a Democrat. He had the White House, they had the Senate and the House as well. They pushed through the stimulus, they pushed through health care using the nuclear option and what happened in the midterms? The Democrats got shellacked!

Doocy sounded delighted as he said that last sentence.

Johnson continued playing the concern troll - who arrived at the same GOP-friendly prediction:

I believe that this sets up the president - unfortunately for our country – for a backlash. When people examine what he said and how he said it yesterday, they say, ‘Is this the country that we want going forward? Has he captured the Democratic party in a way that’s bad for our national interest? Or has he been captured by the leftist elements of the Democratic party in a way that’s bad for our national interests?’ This sets up a whole backlash that I don’t think we understand at this point.

Johnson concluded by saying, “We wish him well, obviously, he’s our president.”

Yeah, obviously.

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Filibuster Reform Debate Begins in the Senate Today

In today's On the News segment: Reagan worshippers across America are freaking out after President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address; Republicans in Virginia took an outrageous step Tuesday to rig the next state Senate elections; everyone is watching Majority Leader Harry Reid to see just how bold he is when it comes to ending obstructionism in the upper chamber; and more.

You need to know this. Is the era of small government over? Today – Reagan worshippers across America are freaking out after President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, because he laid out a vision for America that puts an end to the Reagan Revolution and imagines a nation in which “we the people,” through small-"d" democratic government, take better control of our economy and better care of each other. While Reagan stressed the importance of individualism in his inaugural, President Obama talked about cooperation and collective action. As he said on Tuesday, “preserving individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” It’s the difference between Reagan's “me” society and the traditional American “we” society the Founders envisioned. Reacting to the speech, Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer called the President’s words, “historically very important” and said that, “Obama basically is declaring the end of Reaganism in America.” President Obama also defended social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security – directly calling out people like Paul Ryan by saying that these programs don’t make us a nation of “takers.” And the President called for us to do something about climate change. But now that the speech is over, it’s time for action. With looming deficit reduction talks, entitlement reform, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and economic troubles on the horizon in Europe – the time for talking is over. Over the next four years, President Obama must find his inner revolutionary and change the trajectory of America by putting an end to Reaganomics and once again – to quote the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – bend the arc of human history toward justice.

In screwed news…Republicans in Virginia took an outrageous step Tuesday to rig the next state Senate elections. While the nation was focused on the Inauguration, Republicans passed legislation to redraw the state’s districts and increase how many of them are considered safe Republican seats. Currently, the Virginia state senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans were only able to sneak this legislation through because one of the Democratic state senators was in Washington, DC attending the President’s inauguration – thus, giving the Republicans a one-vote advantage. Reacting to passage of the new redistricting scheme, Democratic state senator Creigh Deeds said, “It goes against every tradition. It was a dirty trick.” So, Virginia Republicans have reached the same conclusion as Republicans in Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconisn, Michigan, and Ohio. If you can’t win elections legitimately, then rig them.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Debate in the Senate on filibuster reform begins today – and everyone is watching Majority Leader Harry Reid to see just how bold he is when it comes to ending obstructionism in the upper chamber. At a Democratic caucus meeting today, Harry Reid will make the case for more moderate filibuster reform that cuts down the number of filibusters that the minority can use – but still allows Republicans to require every piece of legislation to get 60 votes or die in the Senate. But Senators Merkley and Udall will again make a case for their much stronger filibuster reform, which will require the Republicans to speak on the floor of the Senate for the entire time they wish to filibuster. That plan just received another supporter – new Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who released a statement saying, “We face big challenges that demand effective government action and solutions, not more of the same standstill that has become the status quo in Washington." Let’s hope stronger voices prevail. The filibuster, as it’s been abused by Republicans, must be scrapped, and democratic majority rule must return to the people’s Senate.

Speaking of the Senate…while Republicans in the House draft yet another budget to cut taxes for the rich and voucherize Medicare, Democrats in the Senate are working on a new budget that will lay out a different vision of America. As the Washington Post reports, “Senate Democrats plan to draft a budget blueprint that calls for significantly higher taxes on the wealthy, oil and gas companies, and corporations doing business overseas.” Unlike most legislation, budgets can be passed by a simple majority in the Senate – meaning Mitch McConnell and the Republicans can’t filibuster it. When both Chambers of Congress come out with their budget proposals – we’ll see two different visions for America. One in the House that takes us backward toward neo-feudalism and rule by the rich. And one in the Senate will moves us toward progress, and a healthy middle class.

And finally…want to end world poverty? Tax the rich! According to a new Oxfam report prepared for the Davos World Economic Forum, just last year's profits of the world’s one hundred wealthiest people alone could end poverty around the planet four times over. In 2012, the richest one hundred billionaires netted $240 billion in income – far more than enough to lift the rest of the world out of poverty. As Oxfam’s chief executive, Barbara Stocking, said, “In a world where even basic resources such as land and water are increasingly scarce, we cannot afford to concentrate assets in the hands of a few and leave the many to struggle over what’s left.” Here in the United States – where wealth inequality is higher than any other developed nation in the world – we can take immediate action to wipe out poverty and get demand back in our economy. And that’s by placing a new wealth tax on the billionaires so any income over $999,million  dollars is taxed at 99% - so that it can be funneled back through our economy rather than just sit in a Swiss bank account. It’s called the #NoBillionaires Campaign. Go to www.NoBillionaires.com.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, January 22nd, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

Angela Davis: Now That Obama Has a Second Term, No More “Subordination to Presidential...

Angela Davis, renowned author, educator and political activist.

Amy Goodman: Sweet Honey in the Rock performing at the Peace Ball last night "Ella’s Song." This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Yes, we are broadcasting from Washington, D.C., bringing you special coverage of today’s inauguration as hundreds of thousands gather here in the capital. As many as 800,000 people are expected to attend the celebration, smaller than nearly two million people who crammed into Washington to witness the 2009 inauguration but still the largest second inauguration in history. The first, by the way, four years ago, was the largest event ever to take place in Washington, D.C.

After our regular program ends, we’ll continue to bring you coverage until 1 p.m. Eastern time, including the swearing-in ceremony. This year the inauguration also comes on January 21st, the federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Later in our special coverage, we’ll air excerpts of some of Dr. King’s less-often-heard speeches, but now we return to some of the voices from the Peace Ball last night, Voices of Hope and Resistance, at the Arena Stage of the Mead Center for American Theater, a cultural center here in Washington. This is renowned author, educator, political activist Angela Davis, who spoke last night, founder of the group Critical Resistance, a grassroots effort to end the prison-industrial complex. Davis voiced her support for President Obama but said much work needs to be done.

Angela Davis: Let me say that this time around we cannot subordinate our aspirations and our hopes to presidential agendas. Our passionate support for President Barack Obama—and it’s wonderful that we can say for the second time, "President Barack Obama," and we support him, and we are passionate about that support, but that support should also be expressed in our determination to raise issues that have been largely ignored or not appropriately addressed by the administration.

And let me say that we are aware that we should be celebrating, critically celebrating, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. There should be massive celebrations this year. What has happened other than the film Lincoln? And, of course, with two-and-a-half million people behind bars today, the prison system, the immigrant detention system are terrible remainders and reminders of slavery. Mass incarceration has devastated our communities. It is a false solution to problems that have persisted since the era of slavery.

We should be addressing the state of our schools, the continuing crisis of overincarceration, over-punishment. We should be addressing the part played by private prison corporations in pushing for repressive legislation designed to incarcerate ever-increasing numbers of immigrants. Last year, some 500,000, a half a million, immigrants were detained. And that, of course, is the largest number ever.

The past still haunts us. Its ghosts ride the echoes of our lives. To overcome poverty, to overcome racism, we must also overcome xenophobia, homophobia. Justice for African Americans is organically linked to justice for Palestinians. The struggle goes on. A luta continua. And as June Jordan said, we are the ones we have been waiting for. Thank you.

Amy Goodman: The renowned author, educator, founder of the Critical Resistance movement, Angela Davis, speaking at the Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance Sunday night.

The Portrait of a Whistleblower: Torture Cannot Be Tolerated

On January 25th, 2013 in Washington, D.C., former CIA agent John Kiriakou will be sentenced to 2 &frac12; years in prison for revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent. On the eve of that sentencing, Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Government Accountability Project are unveiling his portrait as the newest in the AWTT portrait series. Why are AWTT & GAP celebrating and honoring a man whom our president, Justice Department, intelligence agencies, and military are prosecuting as a criminal?  

The first and most important answer to that question is that in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment and conviction there is no mention about what he really did nor his intent.  As a CIA agent he refused to go along with the Bush administration’s claim that “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as waterboarding, were not torture. And he pointed out that the decision to use torture was not being made by low level “bad apples” in the military & intelligence communities. Mr Kiriakou wrote in his book The Reluctant Spy ( Bantam Books, 2009)  that the decision to use torture was being made at the very top of our government, by the bad apples at the top of the tree. People in positions of great power decided to employ “enhanced interrogation “ techniques and “extraordinary renditions” and to deny these programs while they were simultaneously re-writing the law to legalize them. John Kiriakou refused to go along and blew the whistle.

He is being prosecuted not by the Bush administration but by Obama´s. President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined. When the  president ran for office the first time he pledged to protect whistleblowers, saying how important they are to maintain integrity in government. He has offered to explanation for his change of heart.

When I was asked to write a statement for the press release about the portrait unveiling event, I wrote, “A state that consistently uses law to subvert justice and to violate human rights has become an enemy of its own defining spirit. It takes great courage to defy the power of such a state and to demand that it adhere to its moral imperatives. John Kiriakou has shown that courage in opposing this country’s flagrant use of torture and its attempt to justify that use. It is my great honor to add his portrait to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.”

In saying, “A state that consistently uses law to subvert justice…,” I was thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., writing in 1963  his Letter from the Birmingham Jail condemning the praise that the racist southern sheriff of Birmingham, Bull Connor, was receiving from white ministers for using “nonviolent” techniques to arrest the people protesting for civil rights. King said, “Maybe Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather publicly nonviolent … but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of flagrant racial injustice.”  And Dr. King continued addressing those ministers, “I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.” In other words, it was the courageous nonviolence of the protesters that prevented violence.

This portrait is an attempt to recognize a real hero. It is a terrible irony that the people who ordered the use of torture are free and continue to be rewarded for their “service” to this country, while the man who tried to stop torture is going to prison.

I was telling a friend recently about my choice to paint Mr. Kiriakou, and she said she was disappointed that I had chosen to do it. Why, I asked. Well, she said, Code of Honor. She was referring to the notion that an honorable member of an intelligence agency or the military would never speak negatively about another member publicly, never desert a comrade. Her attitude is understandable but fails to see how dangerous this code can be when it is used to hide the breaking of a more serious code. Just as a soldier is required by law to report a war crime, an intelligence officer who tries to stop the use of torture is staying true to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution. The people who ordered torture, who lied about the fact of its use, who carried it out have made a mockery of any idea of the Code of Honor. For a person to invoke the Code of Honor as a reason for not reporting a crime makes one complicit in the crime. And for a person in a position of power to expect those under his/her jurisdiction to remain silent about a crime because they are respecting a Code of Honor is tantamount to moral bribery. A higher Code of Honor was broken by those political, military, and intelligence leaders who lied to create an unnecessary, illegal war and then denied and justified the use of torture.

Some people defending and supporting John Kiriakou have said that he has been destroyed by this ordeal. Originally he was charged under the Espionage Act and faced 35 years in prison. As a young man ( 48 ) with five children rather than risk conviction, he plea bargained to one count of revealing an agent’s name (even though that name was never revealed publicly and did nothing to expose classified information). Mr. Kiriakou has had his freedom taken away from him. He has lost his job, his house, his income. He has a debt of half a million dollars in lawyers fees. But destroyed? I’d say created. He has discovered a moral fiber that he may not have known that he had. He can, without denial, rationalization or hypocrisy, look at himself in the mirror. It’s hard to say you are on the right side of history when most of your former colleagues are on the other. But he has a new community now -- a community of whistleblowers, truth tellers, and activists for justice and human rights who support his courage. His former colleagues fear him because they know his courage to tell the truth complicates their  Code of Honor and, perhaps, indicts their cowardice.

John Kiriakou’s quote on his portrait says:

“Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated -- not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. I may have found myself on the wrong side of government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history. … There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.”

Robert Shetterly

Robert Shetterly [send him mail] is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine. He is the author of Americans Who Tell the Truth. See his website.

The Portrait of a Whistleblower: Torture Cannot Be Tolerated

On January 25th, 2013 in Washington, D.C., former CIA agent John Kiriakou will be sentenced to 2 &frac12; years in prison for revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent. On the eve of that sentencing, Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Government Accountability Project are unveiling his portrait as the newest in the AWTT portrait series. Why are AWTT & GAP celebrating and honoring a man whom our president, Justice Department, intelligence agencies, and military are prosecuting as a criminal?  

The first and most important answer to that question is that in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment and conviction there is no mention about what he really did nor his intent.  As a CIA agent he refused to go along with the Bush administration’s claim that “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as waterboarding, were not torture. And he pointed out that the decision to use torture was not being made by low level “bad apples” in the military & intelligence communities. Mr Kiriakou wrote in his book The Reluctant Spy ( Bantam Books, 2009)  that the decision to use torture was being made at the very top of our government, by the bad apples at the top of the tree. People in positions of great power decided to employ “enhanced interrogation “ techniques and “extraordinary renditions” and to deny these programs while they were simultaneously re-writing the law to legalize them. John Kiriakou refused to go along and blew the whistle.

He is being prosecuted not by the Bush administration but by Obama´s. President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined. When the  president ran for office the first time he pledged to protect whistleblowers, saying how important they are to maintain integrity in government. He has offered to explanation for his change of heart.

When I was asked to write a statement for the press release about the portrait unveiling event, I wrote, “A state that consistently uses law to subvert justice and to violate human rights has become an enemy of its own defining spirit. It takes great courage to defy the power of such a state and to demand that it adhere to its moral imperatives. John Kiriakou has shown that courage in opposing this country’s flagrant use of torture and its attempt to justify that use. It is my great honor to add his portrait to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.”

In saying, “A state that consistently uses law to subvert justice…,” I was thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., writing in 1963  his Letter from the Birmingham Jail condemning the praise that the racist southern sheriff of Birmingham, Bull Connor, was receiving from white ministers for using “nonviolent” techniques to arrest the people protesting for civil rights. King said, “Maybe Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather publicly nonviolent … but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of flagrant racial injustice.”  And Dr. King continued addressing those ministers, “I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.” In other words, it was the courageous nonviolence of the protesters that prevented violence.

This portrait is an attempt to recognize a real hero. It is a terrible irony that the people who ordered the use of torture are free and continue to be rewarded for their “service” to this country, while the man who tried to stop torture is going to prison.

I was telling a friend recently about my choice to paint Mr. Kiriakou, and she said she was disappointed that I had chosen to do it. Why, I asked. Well, she said, Code of Honor. She was referring to the notion that an honorable member of an intelligence agency or the military would never speak negatively about another member publicly, never desert a comrade. Her attitude is understandable but fails to see how dangerous this code can be when it is used to hide the breaking of a more serious code. Just as a soldier is required by law to report a war crime, an intelligence officer who tries to stop the use of torture is staying true to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution. The people who ordered torture, who lied about the fact of its use, who carried it out have made a mockery of any idea of the Code of Honor. For a person to invoke the Code of Honor as a reason for not reporting a crime makes one complicit in the crime. And for a person in a position of power to expect those under his/her jurisdiction to remain silent about a crime because they are respecting a Code of Honor is tantamount to moral bribery. A higher Code of Honor was broken by those political, military, and intelligence leaders who lied to create an unnecessary, illegal war and then denied and justified the use of torture.

Some people defending and supporting John Kiriakou have said that he has been destroyed by this ordeal. Originally he was charged under the Espionage Act and faced 35 years in prison. As a young man ( 48 ) with five children rather than risk conviction, he plea bargained to one count of revealing an agent’s name (even though that name was never revealed publicly and did nothing to expose classified information). Mr. Kiriakou has had his freedom taken away from him. He has lost his job, his house, his income. He has a debt of half a million dollars in lawyers fees. But destroyed? I’d say created. He has discovered a moral fiber that he may not have known that he had. He can, without denial, rationalization or hypocrisy, look at himself in the mirror. It’s hard to say you are on the right side of history when most of your former colleagues are on the other. But he has a new community now -- a community of whistleblowers, truth tellers, and activists for justice and human rights who support his courage. His former colleagues fear him because they know his courage to tell the truth complicates their  Code of Honor and, perhaps, indicts their cowardice.

John Kiriakou’s quote on his portrait says:

“Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated -- not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. I may have found myself on the wrong side of government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history. … There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.”

Robert Shetterly

Robert Shetterly [send him mail] is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine. He is the author of Americans Who Tell the Truth. See his website.

12 Ways Obama Smacked Down the Right in His Inauguration Speech

President Barack Obama gives his inauguration address during the presidential public swearing-in on the west front of the Capitol Building during the 57th inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013. (Photo: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times) President Barack Obama gives his inauguration address during the presidential public swearing-in on the west front of the Capitol Building during the 57th inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013. (Photo: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times) Reclaiming the language of patriotism, Obama then threw it back in the faces of right-wing Republicans to advance a liberal agenda.

With its elegant rendering of the liberal agenda before the eyes of the American people, President Barack Obama's second inaugural address was music to the ears of many a progressive. But to the ears of Tea Partiers and the Republican right, this inauguration speech, as well as the ceremony that surrounded it, was war -- not just a war of words, but a war of prayer, a war of poetry and even, perhaps, a war of song.

Driving the message home were the hands of the Fates, who conspired to see the second inauguration of the nation’s first African American president fall on Martin Luther King Day, the national holiday whose very creation was opposed by so many who still today comprise the Republican Party’s right wing.

Here we recount a dozen ways in which the president brought his fight to the right, in no uncertain terms, at his second inauguration.

1. Reminding the nation who won the Civil War.  On the eve of Obama’s second inauguration, civil rights leader Julian Bond addressed a crowd of progressives gathered in Washington, D.C., at the Peace Ball convened by the activist restauranter Andy Shallal, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and a host of progressive entities. Bond spelled out the statistics of Obama’s 2012 victory for the crowd, noting that Mitt Romney’s voters were almost entirely white, and that the only states won by the Republican presidential candidate belonged to the old Confederacy.

“The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the anthem of Union troops in the Civil War, long ago passed into the songbook of patriotic themes, and has been played during the inaugural parades of other presidents, sung on several different occasions by the very white Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But when the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, in all its multicultural glory, was tapped to sing the anthem not from a parade stand, but from the ceremonial podium, a different chord was struck, thanks to its context: the invocation that preceded it, and the president's speech, which followed it. 

2. Reminding the nation of the history of the civil rights movement. The significance of the president’s first musical selection could easily be dismissed, had it not been for the fact of how it was bookended: on the front end, the invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and afterward by the president’s own speech, in which he acknowledged the nation’s history of slavery. From the invocation by Evers-Williams:

One hundred-fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of disenfranchised votes, to today’s expression of a more perfect union.

Near the beginning of the president’s own address were these lines:

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

3. Reclaiming the founding documents for liberalism. The president didn’t waste any time plucking the heartstrings of the Tea Party movement, citing both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in the opening paragraph of his inaugural address. It was from the latter that he got the most mileage, beginning with his recitation of the Declaration’s opening strains:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.

Hear that, Messrs. Koch? Did ya catch that mob thing, Tea Partiers?

4. Throwing right-wing rhetoric right back at ‘em. In most political contests, a good political consultant will tell her client never to repeat the opposition’s framing of you. But, as the nation’s first black president, Obama finds himself in a position like no other. To ignore the rhetoric of the right as it is deployed against him lends a sort of cover to the racism that is often implicit in it -- or the simplistic ridiculousness of it all. When Obama, as he has since his re-election, acknowledges and, yes, even repeats that language, he lets the rest of America know that he’s in on the joke, and he thinks it’s a pretty lame joke.

So that line about “the tyranny of a king”? Yeah, that was for the wing-nuts who paint the president as a tyrant in order to justify their call for his overthrow or the overthrow of the U.S. government. Later in the address, Obama, defending the social safety net, took on the right’s “producerism” trope, heard from pundits and politicians throughout Rightlandia, that America is populated by two kinds of people, “the takers” versus “the makers”. (Remember that "47 percent" video?)

The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

And Ayn Rand wept.

5. Actually, you really didn’t build that. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his allies tried to make hay of Obama’s poorly crafted defense of government projects and collective action. In fact, Romney devoted an entire day of the Republican National Convention to refuting a straw man of an idea that Obama never stated, claiming that the president said small business owners were not truly the builders of their businesses. What the president actually said was that the success of small businesses depended, as well, on things the individual could not provide: roads, bridges and a public education system.

In his inauguration speech, Obama showed he’s not backing down from that claim, no matter how hard the right may try to misconstrue it:

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

6. Tearing von Mises to pieces. Right-wing leaders -- as well as Wall Street bankers, industrial polluters, processed-food producers, and any number of one-percenters -- have their resentful followers believing that there’s no such thing as a good government regulation. Much of their reasoning is found in what is known as the Austrian school of economics, notably in the work of Ludwig von Mises and Frederick Hayek. With a single sentence, Obama dismissed that entire branch of quackonomics with the back of his hand:

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

7. Calling out the climate-change deniers with a call to action. In a speech as concise as the president’s second inaugural, the paragraph he devoted to climate change is significant. Not only did the president call for the U.S. to take the lead in battling climate change, in part through the development of new technologies, he also smacked down any doubters (such as, one might imagine, those inculcated to doubt by the many right-wing enterprises funded by energy barons Charles and David Koch):

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.

8. Spanish is the loving tongue, amigos. After a long jihad against Spanish-speaking Americans, right-wing Republicans are reaping their just rewards, left with the impossible task of electing their next president without Latino votes, or doing an about-face on their anti-immigrant policies. In the 2012 presidential election, Latino turnout was the highest it’s ever been, and nearly all of those Latinos voted for Barack Obama. They were rewarded by the sight of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, conducting the oath of office ceremony for Vice President Joe Biden, as well as a poem presented by Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban immigrants, and abenediction, partly delivered in Spanish, by Luis Leon, a priest who came to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee.

And in his speech, Obama did not disappoint those who seek entry to America, whether from Latin America or elsewhere:

Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.

9. Making the moral, patriotic case for the social safety net and against poverty. As mentioned in item #4, Obama made a strong case for maintaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as government programs. Using the timeworn opening phrase of the Constitution’s preamble, he wove that case into a broader argument for collective action, care for the greater community and the fulfillment of the ideal of equality, as asserted in the Declaration of Independence:

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.

[...]

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

10. Asserting the moral imperative of gay rights. Although the right has succeeded in suppressing the rights of women and people of color, it’s widely acknowledged that in this regard, the right is on the wrong side of history. So when, in a line of great rhetorical flourish, Obama equated a famous gay rebellion against New York City police at a Greenwich Village bar with an iconic civil rights march and a catalyzing moment in the quest for women’s suffrage, he essentially said to his opponents: Your campaign against LGBT people is immoral. Here’s the line from the second inaugural address that’s dest